Any business traveler who has logged on to a wireless network at the airport, printed a document at a hotel business center or checked e-mail messages at a public terminal has probably wondered, at least fleetingly, “Is this safe?”

Although obsessing about computer security is a bit like worrying about a toddler — potential hazards lurk everywhere and you can drive yourself crazy trying to avoid them — the fact is, business travelers take certain risks with the things they do on most trips.

“If you go into the average hotel and sit down in the business center and have a look at their computer, I’m sure you’ll find some interesting things that people shouldn’t have left behind,” said Paul Stamp, a security analyst with Forrester Research.

“The first step companies need to do is to educate people about how valuable the data is and also how small the circles are in which they travel,” he said, noting how loudly many people discuss business on cellphones, without a thought for who may be nearby.

Or what may be in the air. Robert Vamosi, a senior editor with the online technology publisher CNET, said wireless networks at airports — or for that matter, hotels or cafes — are not as secure as most people think.

“Someone may have some software on their computer that allows them to look at all the wireless transactions going on around them and capture packets that are floating between the laptop and the wireless access point,” he said.

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