If you travel with a laptop, be very careful with hooking up to just any wireless hot spot. If the hot spot is labeled “free wi-fi”, use caution. Whether you are in a hotel, Starbucks, or an airport, one common travel scam has been for hackers to set up a non-secured hot spot that unsuspecting people hook up to.
It’s actually not a “free wi-fi” hotspot that they are connected to, but to the hacker’s computer. The hacker can see the user’s passwords, financial information, and anything else that they are doing on their computer.
This leaves their files and all of their personal information at risk. Many identity theft scams are caused by people who unknowingly hooked up to one of these networks. Also, the hacker can label the network anything they want. So if you are in a Starbucks and you see two networks named “Starbucks”, this doesn’t mean that both of those networks are actually being run by Starbucks.
Ad Hoc Networks
These type of networks are called ad hoc networks. All of your information can be seen on the hacker’s computer because you are unknowingly using his computer to use the internet. You can determine what kind of network you are connecting to by looking at the description of the network. If it says “computer to computer” rather than wireless network, then it is an ad hoc network, and you should stay away from it.
In Windows Vista, there is no description. Instead you must look at the picture beside the network. If there is one computer, then you are connection to a normal network. If there are several computers, then it is an ad hoc network. You should NOT connect to this network. Windows Vista users are the easiest targets of one of these attacks because it isn’t as easy to tell what kind of network that you are connecting to.
Also, anytime, you are on an unsecured network, it is a very good idea to turn off file sharing on your computer. Keep your information safe, and be careful when hooking up to an unsecured network.