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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Internet Cafe Security Awareness
Facebook Offers A Secure Login Option

By Paul Tomori
Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 22:03:13 (EST)

I hit internet cafe's frequently when I am in between meetings or on the road for some reason. So many places have free wi-fi that the convenience of checking mail or doing a bit of work over a warm drink is very appealing. Something that I recently became aware of was the incidence of eavesdropping that is possible on such publicly accessible networks. Let's take Starbucks for example. You sit down and connect to the wi-fi service then start checking mail, reading blogs, surfing Facebook, doing some online banking or more. You need to know that anyone else connected to the same wi-fi node might be enjoying your transmissions or worse. Generally, most banking sites are secure using https protocols that encrypt the login and transactions. However, most email programs check mail insecurely. This means your login and password could be intercepted for nefarious purposes sooner or later. My company recommends Gmail as they offer https login options. I always check my mail with full confidence that the information is secured.

For those who are constantly logged into Facebook, and at most cafes there are many Facebookers everywhere, there is a simple way to ensure your privacy. Instead of just visiting http://www.Facebook.com to begin your login, start at https://www.Facebook.com. See the difference? Adding the s to http gets you on the secure gateway to Facebook's login. From there, you may get bumped by Facebook to a non-secure transmission, but as long as your password has not been revealed, then the most important part of your privacy remains intact. I heard of a white knight hacker who sat in a Starbucks monitoring people's Facebook logins. He would then login as them and send them a message informing them that he had just picked up their credentials. He let them know about the https option and then moved on. I wouldn't count on everyone being so friendly in their hacking. Use https when logging in to Facebook or any other portal you frequent from public places.

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