A new report from the WiFi Alliance found that nearly a third, 32%, of Internet users will borrow their neighbor’s WiFi connection, or hop onto an unprotected WiFi hotspot to get online. The number is nearly double what it was back in 2008 and troubling form a security aspect given the ease for cybercriminals to grab your information of unprotected WiFi connections.
This love for open WiFi goes on despite a large portion of the survey respondents telling the Alliance that they would be more likely to share their housekey than their WiFi password (40%) and that it was more personal than sharing a toothbrush (more than 25%).
The security issue here is twofold. First, if you are leaving your WiFi network open you are leaving yourself open to attacks that could get at your private login information for banks, social networks and email. The FireSheep scare that happened this summer showed just how easy it is for untrained users to get at your passwords and browsing sessions. Imagine what someone who knows what they are doing could do.
Secondly, if you are connecting to open hotspots to check your email and get online you are running the risk of connecting to a hotspot set up solely to capture your information.
Keep in mind that anytime you connect to open WiFi you run the risk of exposing information. When possible use the secure (https:) version to log into your accounts and avoid checking banking information on open WiFi connections.
Setting up security on your router is incredibly simple and should only take a few minutes. You can find the basic instructions for setting up your WiFi router security at About.com and if you need a specific manual, check out Retrevo.com.
If you aren’t able to follow the instructions that came with it you should ask your neighborhood tech support person and offer them a pizza for their time. If you do feel the need to share with friends or even with a neighbor, put a password on your WiFi and share the password. if need be you can change it after someone leaves.