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Friday, Dec. 12, 2008
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Paying bills at a public hotspot
How safe is it to pay my bill over a free Wi-Fi connection? I am using Norton 360, which I keep up to date. It has a personal firewall and Internet security. I log onto the individual credit card secure sites and make payments by authorizing each card to draft my checking account for a specific amount on a specific date. I can only get frustrating, slow dial-up service at my home.
Financial organizations use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). That is a secure connection, using encryption that has never been broken. Even if your information were intercepted, it could not be read.
When you make a secure connection, the Web address begins with HTTPS. Sites that are not secure use HTTP. You may also see a closed lock at the bottom of the page.
I would think that your biggest danger would be shoulder surfers. These are people who look over a victim's shoulder to steal a password. This threat is most likely to occur in a crowded place.
When entering your passwords, shield your keyboard with your body. That still may not work against a professional surfer. I would try to get a seat against a wall. That would force crooks to watch from a side or front. They would be more apparent.
Don't worry about shielding your screen. It will show just asterisks.
Beware the evil twin! For more on hotspot dangers, click here.
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• Video of the Day: It's never fun getting a speeding ticket. But this certainly isn't the way to handle it. That said, this video is pretty funny.
• Cool Site of the Day: Caroling is a hallowed Christmas tradition. But you don't have to go knocking on doors. Try virtual caroling.
• Digital Minute, on your radio: You'll probably do some Christmas shopping online. Watch out, though! Scammers are out in full force.
• Free Download of the Day: Where do you keep your notes, references and to do lists? You could keep them on your personal wiki!
• Tip on the site: Monitors are pretty standard equipment. But you'll want something specialized for professional-level photo editing.
Tomorrow's Tip, in your e-mail: Choosing a video game console
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