The temptation to use someone else’s unsecured wireless network is one that is common and to the frugal, seems justified. Any home I find myself working on a computer that uses wireless I always find a list of wireless networks and many are not secured with a password.
Now if you are under the impression that I am walking around acting as the “wireless police” then rest assured, I am not. And once we delve in deeper to the subject I think you will realize that I don’t have to be once people are educated on the methods of hackers today.
I have made it clear in other articles, but as a refresher, I am not a hacker and nor do I desire to be one. I have been blessed with the knowledge of how a lot of this stuff works but I’ve never dealt on the dark side
. However, for the safety of my clients I need to think in ways as if I were a hacker to be able to keep them safe. Wireless Security 101: Security on wireless networks is a two way street. Most people have only ever thought about security being the restriction put on them so that they could not, shall I say “borrow” their neighbors wireless. So step one in keeping yourself safe is understanding that the security on the network protects the owners of the wireless as well as any whom they allow to use the wireless. Therefore to leave a wireless network unsecured is a poor move for everyone involved.
The unfortunate truth is that we all must approach using our wireless devices with the understanding that there could always be a hacker logged on to that wireless connection just waiting for some unsuspecting coffee drinker at Starbucks. Scary scenario: You go to Starbucks and decide to move some money from your checking to your savings and what better way to do that than to just log in to the SECURE bank website through the UNSECURE wireless network at Starbucks. The truth is that spoofing is a common practice and those that are good at it, can do it very very quickly. How? They sniff or watch your Internet connection to the bank and log your user name and password. Next they login with your user name and password. Have you ever had one of those verifications where the bank software says “we see you are accessing from IP Address 126.96.36.199, you have never logged in from this location, please verify your identity. Once you have done that from Starbucks, guess what? That just happens to be the IP Address of anyone who sits at Starbucks at that location. Next time Joe Hacker wants to get access to the bank, it will likely not even ask him to verify identity. Ouch...
While I don’t believe it is likely that there are hackers at EVERY Starbucks, count on this. Any network connection in town which is widely used and unsecure is a bright flashing beacon to hackers that there are prime victims waiting to be hacked. And by the way, don’t assume your neighbors are leaving their network unsecure just because they don’t know how to secure it. What if they are setting a trap? Something to think about.
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