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Security risks at Starbucks

How easy is it for another user's laptop to access my laptop's data if we are both connected to the same WLAN at a Starbucks hot spot?
The last time I paid for a temporary WLAN session at Starbuck's, they weren't utilizing WEP encryption. I've never tested it -- and don't recommend that you do -- but assuming WEP is not in place, it's possible that anyone could capture your data with the right tools. In fact, they even admit to insecure WLAN transmissions in their security statement at www.starbucks.com/retail/wireless_security_statement.asp. You can load up NetStumbler or even try the demo version of WildPacket's AiroPeek on any unprotected WLAN and see what I'm talking about. This is why it's so critical to use a VPN for any wireless traffic that you don't want to share with that mischievous guy at the next table who's otherwise trying look innocent by sipping on his cold and refreshing mocha frapuccino.

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