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Internet — México


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Offering an alternative to pricey international phone calls or slow postal services, the internet — cheap, instantaneous, and nearly everywhere — is fast becoming the preferred method for most travelers to stay connected with friends and family back home and research and book travel plans.

Internet cafés are everywhere in México, not just in places where travelers frequent, offering cheap reliable internet access for around Mex$10-20 an hour. Resort areas can be pricey, expect to pay as much as Mex$80 an hour. If near a town center or village, shop around for a better deal. Times vary, but most Internet cafés are open long hours, usually from early morning until late in the evenings and on weekends.

Many hotels, hostels, cafés, and restaurants offer free internet and wifi access for their customers as an inducement, although some will charge a small fee. When it's available, internet and wifi access is always noted in this guide.

The ever shrinking laptop has gotten even smaller in the last couple of years with the arrival of the netbook. Traveling with a compact laptop or netbook isn't really that much of a bother. That said, access to cheap or free computers and the internet is so widespread in México that unless there is some compelling reason to bring one, like work, there really is no point. And, of course, never leave a laptop in the hotel room when out for the day, always keep it in the safe.

Email

Free web-based email accounts such as Microsoft Hotmail (www.hotmail.com), Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), and Google Mail (www.gmail.com) are the easiest to access while traveling abroad. To check work, internet service provider, or other types of email accounts while traveling, contact them for specifics. Most will have a web-based interface available to access their email accounts.

Security

Computers accessible to the public at such places as hotels, hostels, cafés, restaurants, and internet cafés, are susceptible to being infected with viruses and other malicious software, putting the sensitive information of everyone who uses them at risk.

Everyone who uses a public computer to access email or online financial accounts is entrusting this sensitive information to whomever is administering the computer and all the users who have come before them: is the antivirus software adequate? are the computers, networks, and firewalls being administered competently? has even one previous user inadvertently infected the computer? has a cybercriminal, posing as a regular user, installed a program that records every keystroke and emails this information to the cybercriminal? and so on.

Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer are, by far, the most widely used operating system and web browser; it's not surprising then that they are the ones cybercriminals write the majority of the malicious software for. Other less used operating systems such as Mac OS and Linux and browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome are targeted less by cybercriminals, making them inherently more secure. If they're available and you know how, always use them. Indeed, the current recommendation from many computer security experts is to use Linux and Mozilla Firefox to access online accounts with sensitive information.

So are public computers safe to use? If these six simple, yet important, security practices are followed, they can be.

1. If logged in to a website, always log out before leaving the website

Never leave a website by typing in a new web address or closing the browser before logging out. Doing so will usually not terminate the login, leaving it open to access by other users in the future without having to login . On most websites look for the log out or sign out or similar link to log out with.


Often websites include an automatic login feature, usually a check box, that saves usernames and passwords. Never enable this option.


2. Never leave a public computer unattended with sensitive information on the screen

Always log out of all programs and websites and exit all windows before leaving a public computer.


3. Never leave a trace

All web browsers, even after they've been closed, leave a trace of which websites were visited, temporary internet files, cookies, account names and passwords entered, values typed in fields, and other sensitive information. The collection of this information can be disabled on all browsers. Since Internet Explorer is the most widely used and misused browser, only its security features are described. Most of the other browsers will have analogous features.


Internet Explorer Version 8 has a new feature, InPrivate Browsing, that Microsoft claims leaves no trace from web browsing.


To use InPrivate Browsing:
1. Launch Internet Explorer Version 8
2. In the Menu, click Tools
3. Then click InPrivate Browsing, this pops up a new Internet Explorer Window running in InPrivate Browsing mode
4. Do all sensitive web browsing in the InPrivate Browser. Exit browser when finished.


or after launching Internet Explorer 8, strike and hold down the keys: Ctrl+Shift+P.


InternetExplorer8InPrivateBrowsing.JPG


Internet Explorer Versions 6 & 7 do not have a single feature to disable all tracing. Password collection can be turned off before browsing; however, all other collected information will need to be purged when browsing is completed.


Before browsing disable the collection of passwords:
1. Launch Internet Explorer
2. In the Menu, click Tools
3. Click Internet Options
4. Click Content tab, then click AutoComplete button
5. Click to clear both check boxes having to do with passwords
6. Click Okay button for AutoComplete
7. Click Okay button for Internet Options.


InternetExplorerAutoComple.JPG


After browsing delete temporary Internet files and browsing history:
1. Launch Internet Explorer
2. In the Menu, click Tools
3. Click Internet Options
4. Click General tab
5. Click Delete Cookies, Delete Files, and Clear History buttons
6. Click Okay button for Internet Options.


InternetExplorerDeleteHistory.JPG


4. Beware anyone peering over your shoulder

A cybercriminal could watch as you enter sensitive usernames and passwords, websites, and other sensitive information, especially, if you're a slow typist.


5. Never enter sensitive information into a public computer

A cybercriminal, posing as a regular user, could have installed a program that records every keystroke and then emails this information to herself. Unfortunately, nothing in the security practices discussed so far does anything to guard against this trap. There's only one way to avoid it: never type any sensitive information into any public computer. This will, of course, significantly limit what can be done online while traveling. The only real workaround is to keep a second less secure email to use on public computers.


6. Keep two emails

Treat one email as secure for communicating sensitive information on private computers only, never login in to this account from any public computer.


The other email can be treated as less secure for use on public computers, never communicate sensitive information with this account. For added security, use a pseudonym for the username. An account with any of the free web-based email services is fine. When traveling use this account on public computers to stay connected.

Internet Phone Calls

Making phone calls over the internet with wifi-enabled smart phones and laptops is another inexpensive way to phone home. Many smart phones — such as the iPhone, Android, and the Blackberry — are enabled with the same wifi technology that allows laptops to connect to the internet.

With Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications, like www.skype.com and www.vonage.com, wifi-enabled smart phones and laptops connected to the internet can make phone calls. Setting up VoIP applications isn't that difficult, but it does take some tech-savvy. If this isn't you, it's probably best to use a more traditional means of staying in touch.

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