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12/15/2007
Beware the Cafe...

Imagine yourself doing your laptop thing in a cafe with public Wi-Fi, you log onto your bank account to see if you can afford that triple soy decaf chai tea, two days later you find out you have been a victim of identity theft. Here's what happened: About ten minutes before you arrived some wise guy came in and set up a network with the name "public Wi-Fi" then proceeded to view all the information that everyone who innocently logged on thinking it was the cafe's public Wi-Fi. Using a keystroke identifying program he read your password and now has access to anything else that shares that same password.

How can you avoid this? First always be suspicious of network names like "public Wi-Fi" or "hotspot" or "free internet." Second, ask an employee in the establishment the name of the network and any passwords that you might need. Finally be wary of your surroundings. Panera restaurants have secure networks. Joe's Coffee down the street probably doesn't. That being said, just be careful the next time you want to see if you have the funds to buy a raspberry scone.

Read the full USA Today article here.