I thought the danger of public hot spots and unsecured Wi-Fi was old news, but a new Computerworld article raises concerns that many people are still uninformed on the topic. As the article stated:
Ryan Crum, former director of information security at PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services, said he has observed unprotected Social Security numbers, corporate financial data and information about mergers and acquisitions circulating on public Wi-Fi networks, particularly in e-mails.
In his article at The Chief Engineer, John J. Fanning described how easy it is for someone to access your information on public Wi-Fi:
[A]s you are surfing the Internet courtesy of the free Wi-Fi network provided, the fellow sitting a table or two away from you may be cruising your hard-drive looking for your personal identification information. Armed with a "Sniffer" program, that patron can grab all the data you think is safe inside your computer or all the information you are sending and receiving via the Internet while surfing.
Both articles recommend using a corporate VPN and encryption if you need to access the Internet through a public connection. Another option is to provide broadband cards to employees who spend a lot of time outside of the office.
IT Business Edge's Knowledge Network also has tools that address wireless security.