Among other things my town is full of coffee shops with great coffee, free Wi-Fi, and a lot of college students, telecommuters, or weekend warriors (including myself) who consume both in large quantities.
Security in public Wi-Fi settings is not to be taken lightly. It’s way too easily hacked since most business owners don’t know the difference between WEP, WPA, and WPA2, and a vast majority of networks are not password restricted. That’s why when I went to a new coffee shop I was surprised to see about ten shared computers pop up on my network. To me, making your files accessible over an open Wi-Fi network is like rolling out a welcome map for your friendly neighborhood hacker.
How can you prevent it?
It’s pretty common practice to enable partial or full access at home, but you should try to remember if you enabled file sharing on your laptop before you use it in public. Do you have a firewall, and do you use it? That’s another security point in your favor.
Here’s how to disable file sharing on Windows 7 and Mac OS X:
For Windows 7:
- From the Windows (System) menu, choose Control Panel
- Click on Network and Internet
- Click on Network and Sharing Center
- On the bar to the left, click on Change advanced sharing settings
- Click on the radio next to “Turn off file and printer sharing”
- Click “Save changes”
- From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences
- Click on the Sharing icon
- Make sure there is no check in the box next to File Sharing, if there is, click on the check to make it go away