With the ever increasing popularity of wireless internet connections, individuals are now often connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks to surf the net instead of paying for their own accounts. Although jumping on somebody else’s connection doesn’t seem like the crime of the century, the consequences can be very serious. When you connect to somebody else’s account, you automatically open up your PC or laptop and your personal information stored on it. This could actually be what the identity thief wants you to do!
Why Would The Hacker Want Me To Connect?
The Wi-Fi account holder could be intentionally allowing you access to his/her wireless connection so that they can harvest data direct from your computer. By setting up a proxy server and using it to capture your information. This may sounds quite technical and involved, but to a hacker this is an easy way they can steal all kinds of private details such as bank account logins, passwords and browsing habits.
On the other hand, there is also a danger for the account holder. Perhaps the Wi-Fi account holder has simply forgot to password protect his network, or doesn’t feel it’s necessary? This is a bad move. In this situation a hacker may piggyback the connection and commit illegal activities such as download music and movies, view banned sites or hack into secure accounts. By law, the account holder will be liable for any infringement or crime as it will be traced to them and not to the hacker!
What Can The Hacker Get
Additionally allowing others to connect to your account is a very risky move as hackers finding your unsecured network will be able to access a wide range of information from your computer including histories, login details, passwords, private email and much more.
A common technique used by identity thieves is known as the ‘Middle Man’ attack. This involves the thief/hacker trying to fool the unprotected router into feeding all information through the hackers computer. They can then simply snatch the data they want as the info flows through their PC or laptop. Again this includes sensitive data such as passwords, logins and account numbers.
How Can I Prevent This?
However don’t panic just yet! There is a very simple but effective method we can all use to help avoid identity theft from Wi-Fi hackers. Your most effective defensive strategy against all types of hacking is to simply ensure you are never connected to a wireless network that does not have a password protection. If you are setting up your own network, enable the password protection and make a note of it. You will need this at a later date if you decide to access the connection with more computers in your home.
Additionally, as always, an up to date Anti-Virus and active Firewall will work very well in tandem to keep thieves out. This three tiered security set up to protect your computer, the personal information stored on it, and help you avoid identity theft.
But don’t forget Windows Automatic Updates too! Once you have your anti-virus installed and running you’re safe to go online and update your update Windows operating system. Today’s versions of Windows comes with a handy ‘Automatic Updates’ feature which lets your computer update itself as and when it’s required, then simply let’s you know it’s ready to install. I strongly suggest you always have this switched on!