Prior posts have advised readers to secure their home WiFi networks. And I know a few friends and family who still haven't. For those of haven't yet secured their home wireless routers, perhaps this Yahoo News story will move you.
A Buffalo man found himself lying on his family room floor, with F.B.I. agents in the room with assault weapons trained on him. Shouts of "pedophile!" and "pornographer!" filled the room. The man claimed his innocence, but agents confiscated for three days his desktop computer, his wife's computer, their iPads, and iPhones.
After searching these devices, agents were then convinced that the Buffalo man was telling the truth. What happened? He had set up a new home wireless router without a password, and a neighbor used it download child porn.
In February of this year, the WiFi Alliance announced the results of a survey where 32 percent of Americans admitted to using a WiFi network that wasn't theirs. In 2008, that percentage was 18 percent. So, your neighbors are increasingly likely to use an unsecure home WiFi network, if you let them.
What should consumers do to protect themselves? The WiFi Alliance advises:
- Use the newer WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) security for your home wireless router. It encrypts data for privacy and controls who has access to your home network.
- Use Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ products that support WPA2 security.
- Use strong passwords: at least 8 characters long, no dictionary words or personal information, and a mix of upper and lower case letters and symbols.
- Use public WiFi hotspots for general Web surfing and don't use them to access sensitive websites, like your bank's
- Turn off automatic connecting on your smart phone, laptop, and/or tablet devices
- Be alert for wiphishing hotspots, that imitate trusted WiFi networks and then steal your sign-in credentials or personal data