This is frighteningly easy to do, by setting up a fake access point hackers can easily trap your user names and passwords without your knowledge. These hackers can also install a virus that will enable them to reconnect even when you are not on the free wireless anymore, even scarier.
What should you do? Here are some helpful tips on protecting yourself while on public wifi:
· Look for signs indicating the name of the free Wifi also known as the SSID and be sure to log onto that network, check the spelling verbatim, hackers will use a fake name that is similar.
· On Windows Vista and 7 be sure to choose "Public" as your network type this shuts down your file sharing and limits network access. On Windows XP be sure to turn off "file sharing".
· Windows XP will logon automatically so if you're not using the Internet turn off your wireless adapter, this will also save your battery life.
· Try to avoid going to Websites that require passwords like email and banking.
The best way to protect yourself is to create a secure link between your laptop and another computer, the other computer can be your home PC or any trusted server on the Internet which can be free or a pay service.
Using your home PC would be the safest and it's free but it requires a little more work. At home you will install a Secure Shell Server, this will accept a secure connection from your laptop a good "free for personal use" one is called WinSSHD, just download and install it and be sure to read the instructions. On your laptop you will install the connection software called Tunnelier this will create a secure connection between the two computers. If you have a router at home like most people do you will have to open port 22 and forward it to the PC that has WinSSHD running and you will need your home IP address so that you can tell Tunnelier where to connect to.
If you do not want to use your home PC or do not have one you can sign up for a free Secure Shell Server (SSH) access that offers tunneling or a pay SSH which is safer and more reliable. Once you find a SSH service you can use Tunnelier to connect to it which will create a secure connection also.
Now all you have to do is configure your browser to go through the secure connection and you are finished. All your Internet traffic in your browser is encrypted and the hackers will not be able to see anything you are doing. To keep this article short I skipped over the configuration details of WinSSHD, Tunnelier, Browser, and the router, all these are easily found on Google.