safeguard against immediate neighbourhood hack

in the below 2 circumstances, what are the things we are do from anyone reading our traffic data:

1) residential.. wifi dsl.. with password.. we want to make sure 100% no password is hacked from neighbour..
2) airport.. free wifi...
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25112Asked:
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Dave BaldwinConnect With a Mentor Fixer of ProblemsCommented:
Your 'traffic' is on the network outside of your firewall so if they can listen to the network, they can listen to your 'traffic'.  It does not directly depend on what you are using the laptop for.  But you still have all the vulnerabilities that you would at home.  If you go to bad sites, you can download things you don't want.  Unless you have a service listening and accepting connections on your laptop (like ftp or a web server or Netbios/SMB), it is difficult for people to 'inject' anything into your computer.
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Dave BaldwinConnect With a Mentor Fixer of ProblemsCommented:
There is no 100% guaranteed method for either one.  With residential wifi, using long and meaningless passwords makes them harder to guess.  For free wifi at the airport, your only serious protection is to turn your computer off.
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TalShyarConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Use VPN, especially when using it away from home. Also be sure to use WPA2 wireless encryption protocol.

You have the options of using your own VPN server or paying for provider. Below is list of some VPN providers

List of VPN providersList of VPN providers

Out of that list, I have used HideMyAss, StrongVPN, and ipVanish. My best experience was with ipVanish.

Also, check out this article for "How and Why to Setup VPN today"
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giltjrConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Your home wifi.  Use WPA2 and change your key every so often.

How to crack WPA/WPA2: http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-howto/31914-how-to-crack-wpa-wpa2-2012

For free public Wifi.  If you use a user-id/password to logon to any service, make sure that you are using an encrypted connection to that server:  ssh, sftp, ftps, https, SSL'ed Telnet, VPN.  Do not logon to anything using clear text user-id/password.  If for some reason you make a mistake and login in clear text, change you password as soon as possible.
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25112Author Commented:
thank you.

i use gmail often from the free wi-fi in airport..
gmail.com point to https://

is that a good starting point?
then change password everyday? (i wish i can do what Dave suggested, but I am required to use the laptop often)

is that my best strategy.

in gmail, when i type password, i only see dots.. is that what it means by 'not clear text'
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giltjrConnect With a Mentor Commented:
--> ".. in gmail, when i type password, i only see dots .."

NO, that does not mean it is not clear text.  That just means somebody watching you type can't see the letters on the screen.

Since you are using https, that does mean that it is encrypted.  The "s" on the end means it is encrypted using SSL/TLS.
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Dave BaldwinConnect With a Mentor Fixer of ProblemsCommented:
'https' for Gmail should be adequate.  The problem with the free wifi is that your network isn't protecting you from intrusions like a home network that requires a password.
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25112Author Commented:
>>NO, that does not mean it is not clear text
so gmail is using clear-text? practically, what does it mean?

>>'https' for Gmail should be adequate.
so, if gmail is main and big or only use in public wifi, then i have less or no worries, right?

thank you-
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Dave BaldwinConnect With a Mentor Fixer of ProblemsCommented:
No, the login page for Gmail is 'https' so it is not clear text.  The problem with free wifi is that your traffic can be monitored by others.  They may not be able to read the 'https' streams but they can read everything else.  Make sure your firewall is working to block intruders.
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25112Author Commented:
thanks-

>>Make sure your firewall is working to block intruders.

can you recommend a software firewall for the laptop, pl.. one free, one commercial... or windows firewall fine enough? (windows 7)
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Dave BaldwinConnect With a Mentor Fixer of ProblemsCommented:
I just use the Windows built-in firewall.  But I never go to the airport and use free wifi.  Actually, I never go anywhere and use free wifi.
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25112Author Commented:
>>But I never go to the airport and use free wifi.

even if you have good firewall (and https), someone can still track your traffic?

can someone inject virus/malware in those kind of situations?

does it depend on what you are using the laptop for? or does it not even matter?
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