Protecting Yourself When Connecting Wirelessly

The wireless network at UMSL is called "TritonNet". TritonNet is designed to give quick network access to basic web services without the need to VPN into campus.

TritonNet does NOT use any wireless encryption. If you need encryption, you should VPN into campus for that communication. TritonNet works much the same way that wireless hotspots at coffee shops and bookstores do. You are connecting to a wireless network where data can be transmitted in plain text over the air. It is possible for others on the network to see what you are doing.

How can you protect yourself?

Here are some tips for when you are connecting to publicly available wireless or wired networks:

  • Be aware that your traffic can potentially be sniffed (tracked) by a hacker. The level of risk is not trivial. All devices connected to a network, whether wired or wireless, could be under attack. Be cautious do not do things that you do not want people to see! You can't be too paranoid in protecting the security of your network communications.

  • Never connect a computer to a wireless (or wired) network without firewall and virus software installed and running. Even momentarily connecting to a network with your security software disabled, or connecting a new computer before the security software is installed, puts a computer at extreme risk. Get free AV here

  • Confidential information should only be viewed from or submitted to web pages that have been secured the browser window should display a graphic showing a "closed" padlock icon and the web site URL should begin with "https", not simply "http".

  • Be especially careful to ensure that an application is encrypted and secure when you provide usernames and passwords.

  • Do not use services like telnet, ftp, pop, imap, or any technology that sends your Username and Password in clear text. There are secure/encrypted versions of these applications that should be used.

  • Beware of using an unknown wireless network that appears in your connection configuration list. It is possible that someone could run a wireless network for the purpose of collecting data from anyone who happens upon and uses that network. (This is quite common in Airports)

In summary, if you need to do "private" email, online banking, or anything involving personal information, please verify you are connected through https:// or some type of secure access. If you are unsure, you should use our campus VPN connection. Instructions can be found here.

 

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