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Monday, February 27, 2006

Dos & Don'ts for Coffee Shop Internet Access

DOs

• Consider a regulated Wi-Fi Internet system where customers sign into a Web site run by a reputable vendor to reaches the Internet. (Similar to most hotel Wi-Fi systems) This can discourage hackers and help secure and track customers.

• Use a computer service company to manage the network.

DON'Ts

• Keep sensitive documents or financial information on any computer wirelessly connected to your customers.

• Use the same computer to run the company's business and Wi-Fi Internet access for customers, especially if one computer also processes credit card transactions or online banking.

For Customers

DOs

• Install a personal firewall on your computer.

• Consider paying for Hot Spot access. Many sites charge one-time or ongoing fees for access, and thus are less likely hacker targets. • Ask free access providers about security issues before turning on your computer.

• Turn off "file sharing" on your computer. This helps seal your files from others on the network. This can be done in the "folder options" or "network connections" area of your computer's control panel.

• Ask your company if they have installed a Virtual Private Network. All communications across a VPN are encrypted, so your interaction with your company network will remain hidden, though other actions on your computer are not affected by VPN.

• Password-protect sensitive files.

DON'Ts

• Keep your wireless device on if you are not connected to the network. Turning off your computer or removing your wireless card when logged off will help protect your files from those who are on the wireless network.

• Perform any financial transactions in a Hot Spot.

• Send private or sensitive information over a wireless connection. Imagine that everything you send over a network is printed on a postcard, for all the world to see.

• Assume a potential data or identity thief is visible. Just because you don't see another computer user in the coffee shop does not mean there isn't one in the above apartment or in a car outside the shop.

• Let your anti-virus software expire - An unprotected computer will be infected with a virus or spyware within about 15 seconds of being on-line.

• Ignore your Windows update box. When the small box in the lower right hand corner of your computer tells you that updates are available, always take the opportunity to update your system and protect your identity.

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