Tag Archives: networks

Tip #20 Public WiFi: Use Sparingly and Safely

Miami Beach

Image: Vintage postcard.

It sounds like a great plan: Finish your history paper on the plane and email your paper from Miami Beach. As soon as you click “send,” you can slap on the suntan oil and vacation will begin!

You’re expecting to the pay the hotel for the privilege of using their WiFi connection. But as you’re about to connect to the hotel network, you notice a network called Free WiFi.

Don’t join that network! Even if you have to pay, it’s much safer to use the hotel’s network with your computer’s settings adjusted for using a public network.

Hooking up to a free network or hot spot, supported by an unknown source, may cause you to become a victim of a common WiFi scam. Hackers make available an Internet connection that looks legitimate. In reality, you’re connecting to their computer and they’re watching every move you make. All your traffic goes through their computer, allowing them to gather personal information like emails, usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers. They can even lodge a virus in your computer. And you won’t know a thing about it, until it’s too late.

The history paper might have been sent for free, but ultimately it will cost much more than the hotel’s WiFi connection.

When you’re tempted to join a free WiFi connection, think twice! Limit your risk when you connect to ANY public network, free or paid, by following these security tips:

  • First and foremost, do not connect to unfamiliar networks.
  • Never join a network identified as computer-to-computer.
  • Verify that your computer is not set up to automatically connect to networks.
  • Turn off file sharing while traveling.
  • Use antivirus software and keep it updated. Fordham has free antivirus protection for students, faculty and staff.
  • Install security patches.
  • Use a firewall.
  • Use your browser’s security settings.
  • Avoid opening email attachments.
  • Treat Instant Messaging suspiciously.

Fordham University’s own network is secure because it requires you to log in with your AccessIT ID and password.

By Nicole Kagan, Fordham IT News Editor

Tip #5 What’s that person doing in my computer?

Fordham IT staff take "Innovation Walks" to disconnect from the online world and get some exercise.

Fordham IT staff take “Innovation Walks” to disconnect from the online world and get some exercise. Disconnecting your computer from the network and disconnecting from your computer can have positive benefits.

It’s one thing to lend your smartphone to a friend to make a quick call, or share a computer with your family at home. It’s an entirely different matter when a stranger gains remote access to one of your devices.

You can prevent that from happening by disconnecting your computer from the Internet when you’re not using it.

Staying connected online all the time is easy and convenient. But a 24-hour connection increases your chances of an attacker or virus scanning the network for an available computer. When you’re not using it, turn off your computer or modem, or disable the WiFi connection. Make sure you have your firewall enabled.

Speaking of firewalls, at Fordham, you can’t even log onto our secured network unless you have firewall installed. This precaution helps keep the networked and wireless connections on all of Fordham’s campuses secure. That’s why we ask you to authenticate (called Network Access Control, or the NAC), each month. We strive to keep our campus’s online environment space safe for you, 24/7.

Moreover, it’s good to get in the habit of disconnecting. Fordham IT staff often take walking meetings together. Our productivity and enthusiasm improves when we take breaks from our computers and the online world.