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Stay safe while staying connected to your tablet

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[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld, and not by PCWorld's editorial staff. ]

Thanks to wireless technology, all-day battery life, and a bevy of useful apps, tablets give you the power to get online and stay productive from almost anywhere. But it only takes one security mishap to bring everything crashing down. Here’s how to protect your tablet, your data, and yourself when you’re working remotely.

Use Public Wi-Fi Smartly

All Intel-powered tablets feature Wi-Fi connectivity, and with millions of public Wi-Fi hotspots up and running worldwide, it’s easier than ever to find a place to hop online. But when you’re not using Wi-Fi actively, take steps to protect yourself. On a Windows 2 in 1 device like the Microsoft Surface Pro, switch your wireless setting to airplane mode when you’re not actively using the connection. Similarly, when you connect to a network for the first time, choose “Public network” when you’re asked what type of network you’re connecting to. This is designed to make your computer invisible to other nearby users and help to prevent malware from being downloaded to your machine.

Recognize Rogue Hotspots

You’ll find hotspots just about everywhere – coffee shops, libraries, or hotel lobbies – but in some busy locations, a few nefarious types have tried setting up phony Wi-Fi hotspots designed to trick you into connecting to them instead of the real thing. For example, you might be accustomed to connecting to the “xyzcoffee” hotspot. A hacker next door could set up “xyz-coffee” in the hopes of tricking patrons into connecting to this so-called “rogue hotspot” instead. Because you are sending all of your traffic through the hotspot, it can be used to spy on your online activity in the hopes of siphoning away passwords and sensitive, personal information. The best defense is simply to ask an employee or other responsible person what the correct network is; don’t connect to the rogue hotspot, and report its presence to the establishment you’re at if possible.

Don’t Sync With Strangers

If you need to top off your tablet’s battery and there are no wall outlets to be found, you might consider connecting to another computer to draw some juice from the USB connection. Bad idea: Unfortunately, plugging in can initiate a synchronization process that can result in your personal information and files being inadvertently copied to that person’s computer. So if there are no friendly machines around, this isn’t a recommended course of action.

Be Smart About Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a convenient way to expand your tablet’s functionality without adding extra wires. But if you’re not using a Bluetooth peripheral like a keyboard or headset, turn off your Bluetooth system altogether. Why? While attacks are rare, a hacker could potentially gain access to your tablet by tricking you into pairing your device with a keyboard or other input device under their control. While a Bluetooth-based attacker would have to be close (within 30 feet), it wouldn’t prevent the person sitting behind you at a restaurant from surreptitiously taking control of your device.

Set Up Remote Wipe Capabilities

Sometimes, despite our best precautions, security measures fail us. That’s why it’s important to have a fail-safe strategy for protecting your data from being compromised. The solution: Remote wipe software that works over a wireless connection and lets you zap your device’s hard drive if it goes missing or is otherwise disabled. Android tablets like the Acer Iconia A1 have this capability built in. On Windows devices, consider add-on software like Absolute Computrace.

Remember: Intel-powered tablets come loaded with security features like malware detection systems and firewalls, so take some time to explore them before you venture out into the world. Additionally, many additional security apps can be downloaded if you want to toughen your tablet’s shell even further. For example, check out Hotspot Shield, which lets you use a Virtual Private Network for extra security when connecting through a public hotspot.

[ This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of PCWorld, and not by PCWorld's editorial staff. ]

This story, "Stay safe while staying connected to your tablet" was originally published by BrandPost.

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