Wi-Fi risks noted PDF Print E-mail
Written by HAROLD BROWN, Sentinel City Editor   
Monday, 03 February 2014 10:28
Users of public wireless internet networks need to be aware of the risks and take precautions to guard against the theft of their private and business information, representatives of Frontier Communications said recently in Bowling Green.
Frontier recently kicked off a 27-state tour to boost knowledge of the threats presented by the use of public Wi-Fi and ways to prevent it during a Business After Hours program of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce in the Atrium of the Wood County District Public Library.
"Experts tell us that Wi-Fi use increased 240 percent during the past year," said Kelly Morgan, vice president and general manager for Frontier Secure. "Without question, Wi-Fi offers great conveniences, but we're seeing more and more people become victims of identity theft." Kelly said 44 percent of Americans don't understand the risks associated with public Wi-Fi.
Morgan and Sal Valdivia, technical support coach, created an "evil-twin" of the library's public Wi-Fi to demonstrate how data is stolen.
"Using open source software, a couple of adapters costing $12 and $13 each and a book costing $25," Valdivia said a cyber thief can be busy quickly stealing data.
"People connected to a fake network are often not able to tell the difference," Morgan said. "Even if a network indicates it is secure, a thief may be stealing data. Users can sometimes tell something is wrong if the connection slows down but normally the user is none the wiser."
Valdivia said it is best to conduct business, banking and similar personal activities from a secure home network. "Use multiple different passwords and change them frequently," he said.
Morgan said data from 2012 indicates 16.6 million U.S. residents age 16 and older were victims of one or more incidents of ID theft. Those thefts resulted in nearly $24.7 billion in losses.
"Wi-Fi can be less secure than wired connections because an intruder does not need a physical connection. Wi-Fi networks are nothing more than radio waves that anyone can intercept," Morgan said.
Morgan offered several suggestions for those who use public Wi-Fi:
• always verify the name of the Wi-Fi network (hackers can set up similar fake networks);
• turn off file and print sharing and network discovery on devices;
• access only non-sensitive public information (avoid bank and credit card sites for example);
• turn off "wireless" on the device when not in use;
• keep software updated;
• use a firewall if available;
• use a virtual private network (VPN) service, which is always the safest approach.
U.S. Rep. Robert Latta, R-Bowling Green, a member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, talked briefly about cyber security issues facing the country and the number of precautions officials in Washington, D.C., have to take to protect themselves and the government.
"As fast as we move, someone else is working to steal the information." he said.
The library provided a display and list of identity protection books, websites, articles and free password managers. The list is available at the second floor information desk.
Last Updated on Monday, 03 February 2014 11:11

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