Why-Fi Worry?

New technology makes it easier than ever to hack wireless networks.Security experts and technology pundits have spent a long time now warning people about the dangers of unsecured wireless networks. As technology improves and more and more people go wireless and mobile, this has become an even bigger issue, and while we often look to quick technological fixes, more and more it looks like technology is making things worse instead of better.

Case in point? A little program released in October of last year called Firesheep has made it a snap for strangers to follow your browsing, and even log in as you to websites you’ve visited, on unsecured wireless networks.

The New York Times has an interesting piece on new (and not so new) technology that makes hacking wireless networks simple. Some of the programs showcased, like Firesheep, are relatively new and allow even users who can barely connect their printer to snoop on wireless activity. Especially troubling is the fact that those snoops can intercept your login information and access the websites and services that you used. A mild example would be a hacker taking your Twitter account info and posting spam under your name (something that has personally happened to me. It’s not fun to clean up after.)

A much more terrifying example would be a hacker stealing your credit card info if you used an e-commerce site that didn’t support SSL encryption (they’re out there, especially on smaller boutique e-stores). The take-away from this is never ever use a public, open wi-fi network to do anything unless you would be comfortable giving a play-by-play of all your activity to everyone around you by way of a megaphone. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable telling the barista at Starbucks where you’re surfing don’t surf there; save it for your home wired or secure wireless network.

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