Special Report: Internet Threat
Do you have a wireless router? Brian Wangrin does. He uses it to get internet service anywhere in his office.
He opens his laptop and is instantly connected to the internet. But that same technology could be leaving users open to attack.
Matthew Gray of Newbury Networks says, "Everything you send over that wireless connection is exposed.
Here's problem number one - when you turn on your wireless router, anyone within a hundred yard radius can use it. That includes people in the next apartment, people upstairs, even people out in the street.
"They can now get on that access point and share that internet access," Gray cautions.
So what that means is people can pull up right in front of your house and log on using your service. It's that simple. The practice is called 'war driving', from the 1983 movie 'Wargames'.
Why should you care? Because you don't know what the 'war driver' is doing with your service - he could be downloading child pornography, stealing identities or a host of other crimes. A Florida man was recently arrested for war driving, and he's not the only one.
"A guy in canada who was driving around downloading kiddie porn on his laptop, using other people's access points," Gray says.
Assistant Attorney General John Grossman says victims of war driving also face legal issues. "If we track it back to its source as being your house, your computer, and you weren't involved, there's going to be at least an uncomfortable moment both, primarily for you, when the police come knocking at your door
Here's another problem - you may not know what the intruder is doing -- but he sure knows what you're doing. When you're connected to a wireless router, a nearby attacker can grab your information right out of the air.
"So for example," Gray explains, "If you browse certain websites, what websites those are are visible to everyone within a few hundred feet. If you check your e-mails, the content of those e-mails, the passwords of those e-mails are clear."
But before you throw away your wireless router, there are ways to protect yourself - and they're built right into the computer you already have. For ways to stay secure, check these links.
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