In today's world of commerce and travel, we're all used to many public places offering free wifi to consumers. Open wifi connections are convenient. They allow us to leave the office and do work outdoors, do homework at a coffee shop rather than at home, or access important information almost anywhere. But though open wifi connections are great in public, they can lead to serious problems at home. Even today, thousands of homes do not have a firewall or security password on their wifi connection. These homes are broadcasting internet access, sometimes as far as a block away. Not only does this allow their neighbors to acquire free internet access, it can allow anybody within range to view the files that are on your computer, and download sensitive information such as your banking formation, tax documents, social security number, stored pictures, and anything else on your computer.
In rare instances, the thief used the victim's computer to store illegal material such as child pornography so that the authorities wouldn't find it on the thief's computer. But luckily, there are several easy things that you can do to protect yourself from this intrusion.
- Install a Firewall - A firewall determines who has access to your family's network and who doesn't. Whoever has access can go online and share files between computers. It is always important to make sure your firewall is constantly ENABLED and that it recognizes which computers can have access as well as have a password to enter.
- You Need a Virus Scanner - regardless of if you have a Mac, PC, or Lenox based computer, you need to have a virus scanner. There is no such thing as a computer that is "virus-proof". Hackers and criminals are clever and there is a code for every type of computer and program. A while ago, there was a virus code that could be imbedded in .jpg files. These viruses can open backdoors in your firewall, record everything you type, or allow thieves to insert other malicious programs or files onto your computer.
- Be careful about what you download. Some files on the internet may look harmless but actually contain malware such as Trojans. Pay attention to your virus scanner while downloading new products. If it doesn't like a program, don't download or install it.
Initial protection from outside intrusion of your wifi based network is relatively easy. If you need assistance setting up your firewall or picking a virus scanner, consult your local computer expert.
"Direct Connections to the Internet Protecting Yourself and Your Information Against Intruders" was written by Kat. Kat is a Victim Advisor at the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to and linking back to ITRC Blog.