The Investigators

Jul 9, 2013 2:38 AM by Tom McNamara

Protecting your Wi-Fi from unauthorized use

TUCSON - Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by technology - everything from smart phones and tablet, to laptops, X-boxes and more.

But there are unseen hazards that lie beyond the wires.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators drove through Tucson neighborhoods, looking for unsecured wireless networks - places where we could access the internet, without using a password.

What we found with the help of local internet expert, Oscar Fowler, will shock you.

Using nothing more than a laptop and free application, we were able to sniff out open networks. The more we drove, the more we found.

"Of this list right now, what are the odds that there are some one or more networks where if I wanted to download porn. If I wanted to download something illegal anything like that?"

"I'd say very good, very good," Fowler says.

And, in fact, in a case last year, a Tucson man was arrested, and convicted of downloading child porn using his neighbor's unsecured wireless network on Tucson's southwest side.

"The chances are I could get on one of these somewhere, just in this little bit we've driven so far," Fowler says.

The dangers posed by leaving your wireless network open are as wide ranging as the wireless signal itself.

"An unsecured port is really an access for many different things, be it identity theft, be it download of copyrighted music, fraud, or child exploitation, child pornography," says Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Special Agent In-charge Lon Weigand.

Working in cooperation with state and local authorities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement works to shutdown child pornographers, identity thieves, and other criminals who take advantage of open networks.

"You wouldn't hang a key to the front door on the front door and invite anybody in - and that's the same thing with your internet environment. You need to take proactive steps to make sure that it's secure as possible," Fowler says.

And, here are some of those steps you can take to keep you and your family secure:

• Password-protect your wireless connection on all of your devices, including your router or X-Box.

• Place the wireless access point away from windows, near the center of your house. That helps to decrease the signal strength outside the area you want covered.

• Keep your software, including your web browser, up to date.

• Make sure that your firewall is turned on and use antivirus and anti-spyware software.

If you have something you'd like us to investigate - email us at investigators@ kvoa.com.

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