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Need some advice for surfing on public WiFi and more


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#1 A-placid

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 09:21 AM

(If this topic is posted in the wrong place, please move it. I did not do it on purpose. Sorry!)

Hello!

So.. I'm going to the university in a few days. Thing is that.. I'm not that rich to rent a flat for only myself. But school also offers accommodation, and that's much cheaper. But here's the problem - I'm probably going to share my room with one guy (and possibly one more), which is why I need some advice how to secure my laptop.

1) When I went there (to the accommodation place) I scanned for WiFi connections. I'm not sure which one is meant for the students - there were private networks and public. I guess that one of the public networks is meant for the students. But here's the thing.. as I've heard, public networks ain't safe. It's much easier to snoop around on everyone's PCs. Even if the network would be passworded and everyone knew the password, it would still be much safer, since then everyone gets their own "passage" where the traffic is going through. But when it's unsecured public network, then all the connections go through the same "passage". I'm at the moment reading these guides here:
http://lifehacker.com/5576927/how-to-stay-safe-on-public-wi+fi-networks
http://lifehacker.com/201786/geek-to-live--create-your-own-virtual-private-network-with-hamachi
http://lifehacker.com/5763170/how-to-secure-and-encrypt-your-web-browsing-on-public-networks-with-hamachi-and-privoxy
But I thought maybe someone has some more good tips for me, that the Lifehacker's guide has missed. Aaand.. do you suggest me to follow these guides even then when it comes out that I'm after all going to use a passworded network?

2) So.. the WiFi problem was one thing. But the second thing is that.. Since I'll bring my laptop with me, what would you suggest for extra security? I mean.. Lets say that I'm surfing the web, and then I would like to go to the toilet. Well yeah, I could just log off, but if the guy is smart he could just insert a small Linux-like CD and reset my password, and he'd get in easily - I actually needed a disc like this once, since a friend of mine had forgotten his Administrator password, and it worked perfectly. Well yeah.. I know I could do it quick in the toilet and he wouldn't have time to do nothing, but what if he'll do it on night when I'm sleeping? I need to have some extra security I guess. And as I'm aware, it's extremely easy to put a virus on your USB-stick. So I'll go to the toilet, he'll just put his USB-stick to my computer, and then I'll come back and he'll just smile to me, like nothing has happened. I've also heard something about hard-drive encryption - I guess I gotta look into it and see what this is about, and would it help me.
But one thing is for sure - only the Windows account's password is not giving me the security I need, I guess. And all this might seem a bit paranoid, but.. I thought it would be better to watch out. It could be true that the guy (or guys) will be great, and I might actually get along with them and make friends. But umm.. at the beginning they are new to me, and I can't blindly trust them.

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#2 rotor123

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 10:56 AM

1. Ask the school what network they support.

2. Password the computer so that it won't even boot without the password and so it won't let you into the Bios without one either.

3. If it is a laptop take it with You.

4. Desktop, shut it down and let the bios startup password do its job. All of mine start in well under a minute using SSD boot drives.
Don't forget with a desktop to put a lock on the case so that the clear Bios jumper can't be used.

5. If it supports a hard drive password, then once that is set it won't boot without that password. Nor can the contents be seen without entering that password at boot time.
Caveat: Warning Forget that password and your data is gone.

6. Business model laptops have more security features. One with a fingerprint reader where you swipe a finger instead of typing a password will prevent shoulder surfing your password as well as defeat a security camera / Cell Phone camera capturing it. Those would include business models of most brand names as Well as Lenovo Thinkpads, Only Lenovo Thinkpad line, not the non Thinkpad Lenovos.

7. If your passwords change or disappear, Well you've been hacked.

8. Do not forget to secure the computer physically too.

I covered both Laptop and Desktop to help others too.

Hope these few tips help
Roger

Edited by rotor123, 02 September 2012 - 10:57 AM.

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