Here is another article from the New York Times on the growing dangers of Wi-Fi insecurity. People in this part of the world seem to think that they are immune from the dangers, because they think it is only 1st world countries that have the technology to sniff out your information.
Think again, because the technology is getting cheaper and more available everyday. Cities like Boquete and Panama City, whose tourist trade continues to grow, would be a prime targets. Some spots in David, such as TGI Fridays and McDonald’s, would also be prime targets.
Everyone using the Internet needs to be practicing Safe Internet Intercourse. There are several things you can do.
- Use a stronger password. Many people think that using cute words such as superman or panamapete are fine. They are not. A strong password should be at lead 8 characters long and contain both upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and special characters. So how do you take a simple password and harden it without making it difficulty to remember? It is not tough. How about $uper123Man as a replacement for superman or Panama123%ete for panamapete. A simple substitution of characters in your current passwords will be adequate.
- Don’t connect to Wi-Fi that does not use WAP encryption. If your hotel or favorite restaurant has an unsafe connection, talk to them about hardening their connection. If the connection uses WEP encryption, it is not enough. How will you know if it is WEP? The password will be specified as WEP or WAP. WAP is more secure.
- Consider using a VPN. What is your peace of mind worth? My VPN, WiTopia, costs me $69 a year. That allows as me to protect regular PCs using a Windows, Apple or Linux operating system, as well as my iPad.
- If you have a home Wi-Fi, turn off the broadcast mode. With broadcast on, anyone driving down the street can see if there are Wi-Fi systems available. If your network can’t be seen, it is harder to be hacked. If your router provides a guest channel, don’t use the same password as your primary channel.
- Always keep your OS current on fixes. ALL operating systems are vulnerable, but the most vulnerable are those that are never maintained.
- Keep your Anti Virus current. On my Windows PC I use Microsoft Security Essentials. It is free and very good. I have never had a virus on any Windows OS I have owned, but I am meticulous with my maintenance. If you think you are immune because you own a MAC, think again. One of the last Apple updates was the largest security fix release it had ever done. And with MAC gaining market share, its threat level increases. The same is true with Linux.
Remember my new acronym SII, and practice Safe Internet Intercourse. I don’t condom condone anything else.