Unsecure wi-fi networks leave users vulnerable

A look at how neighbors and strangers can take advantage of unsecured networks.

TAMPA – Is your wireless internet, mouse, keyboard or printer password protected? If not, you’ll want to take action now to secure your Wi-Fi.

A New Jersey family says police recently raided their home looking for whoever had downloaded and shared tens of thousands of images of child pornography.

Detectives went through the family’s computers and found nothing. The investigation led them to a neighbor, Louis LaSalle.  According to officers, the family’s Wi-Fi was unsecure. They say LaSalle used a router to connect to their internet and then shared and downloaded pornographic videos and pictures.

We set out to see how secure you and your neighbors are. It didn’t take us long to find who was secure and who wasn’t.

On just one small cul-de-sac there were several wireless printers and systems that didn’t require passwords.  We was able to connect within seconds.

"There I am, but I'm secured. I'm locked down," Margaret Iuculano said looking at the available networks.

Iuculano has an IT background and knew her family’s systems were secure. She was surprised to see some of her neighbors’ wireless devices weren’t.

"Being a little bit of a tech geek myself, you know, I will go through and I can pick up and see if I can get on other people's, which is kind of what I do. And so, I'm always surprised by how many other networks I can jump on without passwords that are password-protected," she said.

Jacob Lott, a computer security expert in Tampa, owns the Computer Doctors specialty store. He says at the very least passwords are a must on any wireless device.

“Anything wireless can be taken over and exploited in the exact same manner,” said Lott.

Without a secure network anyone can take over your Wi-Fi from anywhere in the world or as that New Jersey couple learned the hard way, even next door.

Lott says the harder you make it for people to get onto your system, the safer you are.

He suggests the following:

--  Secure your router with password protection

--  Buy devices that use encrypted signals to communicate with your computer or wireless router.

--  Define the Wi-Fi range from the router or place the router in the center of your home in something like a closet to limit the strength. 

Here's another guide, courtesy of Techwalla.

 

(© 2016 WTSP)


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