Learning About Computer Services

Business Traveler's Guide To Protecting Your Computer When Connecting To Public Wireless Networks

by Hector Meyer

As a business traveler, you probably spend a lot of time utilizing free wireless Internet provided by airports, hotels and other public destinations. While these types of networks can be convenient, they can also put your computer and company safety at risk. Most of these public wireless networks have little-to-no security for the connections, so your computer will be vulnerable to malware and outside intrusion. Here are some things that you can do to minimize those risks and protect both your computer and your company's network.

Don't Travel Without Protective Software

Before you head out on a road trip for work, take time to consult your local computer technician to have protective software installed. You'll want anti-virus, Internet firewall software and even a web safety application. These will help to protect your computer against any potential breaches while you're out on the road, even if you're using public WiFi.

Control Your Computer's Network Connections

Make sure that your laptop is configured so that it requires manual intervention to connect to any wireless network. This reduces the risk that your computer will connect to a network without your knowledge. Any connection that happens without your physical intervention can put your computer's data at risk, so disabling wireless connections without authorization is an important step.

One of the things you'll want to do as part of the connection validation process is to review the network connection carefully before you accept it. Ad-hoc networks are easier than ever to activate, with cell phones and other devices serving as hot spots. Make sure that you know exactly which network is the one you're supposed to be connecting to so that you always connect to a legitimate wireless broadcast. Ask the network owner to validate the network name, or SSID, before you connect to reduce the risk of someone else getting access to your computer.

Don't Share Your Data

Even though you might have certain folders or directories available for sharing when you are logged into your company network, you want to avoid sharing any of these things when you connect to a public network. Depending on your operating system, you may be able to disable file sharing in the administration panel or in a file manager. Doing this prevents anyone else on that public network from connecting to your computer.

These tips will help you keep your computer and its data safe when you're on the road. If you connect to your work servers through a VPN connection while you're traveling, these steps will protect your company network from breaches, too.

For more information, contact Net Help 24/7 or a similar company.