CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Almost everyone has a computer, but if you haven't taken steps to secure it, you could be living in some serious Internet danger.
Did you know your wireless access signal on your home computer can extend beyond your house?
Alnori Frattarelli of Green Hills didn't.
Recent incidents underscore need for protecting against hit and run style WiFi attacks.
The technology sure makes your life easier but it's also giving cyber crooks a whole new way to hack into your private information.
"Everybody else, all my neighbors have their own wireless. Why in the world would they need to use mine," said Frattarelli. "Hackers and things like that, they didn't occur to me but in the back of my mind. It's sort of like going to work and leaving one door open. You knew it when you left home, but you felt like who is going to bother."
If the wireless signal to your router is not password protected, you are at risk.
"Computer security is a big issue not only for consumers, but for businesses," said Apolonio "Apps" Garcia, President of U.S. HealthGuard. "Everyday thousands and thousands of identities are stolen. Computers are hacked and its an on-going battle."
In a cybercrime survey of just over 7,000 Internet users in 14 countries, researchers found that 65 percent of Internet users worldwide have already been victims of wireless hacking.
"Anytime you have an open portal, any time you have the ability to get into a system remotely, that's another vulnerability," said Agent Rick Harlow with the U.S. Secret Service.
In the U.S., it's 73 percent, according to Symantic.
"In some cases you're going to find it even more unencripted wireless networks," said Garcia.
WiFi Security Risks for Home Users
- Hackers can use your unsecured WiFi home connection to send malicious e-mails, hacking into other sensitive networks is possible through your home WiFi
- Downloading of illegal content is possible through your home WiFi connection
- Forensic investigations into hacking incidents will lead to your doorstep while the actual perpetrators will remain untraceable
- Your personal data (for example, bank accounts) can be hacked
- Other misuses are also possible while you pay for the hacker's use of Internet access.
Garcia and his team put Frattarelli's computer safety to the test. After five minutes in her neighborhood, Garcia and his team got a ton of access into what you would think is private information.
"There are about 15 different networks that I see from where we're sitting right here and that is without any special equipment," said Nate Hausrath with HealthGuard.
Of the 15 networks, five were open.
"Right now I see several different wireless networks," said Hausrath. "I can pick one of them, tell my computer to listen to that one specifically, and we can see everything that occurs on that network."
Hausrath's software can sniff and analyze information being sent between Frattarelli's computer and her router/modem. Eventually he could crack several usernames and passwords to some vital information.
"Banking transaction, it could be logging into Facebook and Twitter and we can use that information however we choose," said Hausrath.
Believe it or not, it's easy to do.
"This is a program you can download for free over the Internet. Its an open source program. You can run it on just about any type of machine," said Hausrath.
Identity theft shouldn't be the only thing you're worried about.
In Florence, police raided Gary Thomas' home for child porn, and in that case, several years ago, Thomas was actually using his neighbors Wi-Fi signal to run an international child porn ring.
"I live with that everyday knowing that it doesn't have a password," said Frattarelli. "And hopefully no one will attempt to do anything."
Here are some tips to keep yourself protected.