Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

Most people are familiar with the TJX hack where 45 million credit card numbers were stolen. It’s has been said numerous times that the criminal hackers who stole millions of customer records from TJX stumbled across a vulnerable, unprotected wireless network at a store location while sitting in a parkinglot of a strip mall or shopping center from their car using a laptop, a telescope antenna, and an 802.11 wireless LAN adapter. This process is called “Wardriving”

The retailer recently agreed to pay $9.75 million to 41 states to settle an investigation of a massive data breach that jeopardized millions of payment card numbers. Some reports say TJX has spent to $256 million fix the problem.

WiFi is everywhere. Whether you travel for business or simply need WiFi while out and about your options are plentiful. You can access at airports, hotels, coffee shops, fast food restaurants and now airplanes.

What are your risk factors when accessing wireless? Plenty. WiFi wasn’t born secure. It was born convenient. Over the years as more sensitive data was transmitted wirelessly the need for security evolved. Today with criminal hackers as sophisticated as they ever have been, wireless communications are at an even higher risk.

There are 2 basic forms of security when setting up a wireless router.

Wi-Fi Protected Access is a certification program created in response to several serious weaknesses researchers had found in the previous system, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)

Wired Equivalent Privacy was introduced in 1997 and is the first form of wireless security for wireless networks. Wireless networks broadcast messages using radio and are thus more susceptible to eavesdropping than wired networks.

It’s one thing to access your own wireless connection at home or the office thats been set up with Wi-Fi Protected Access . It entirely another story when accessing someone else’s unprotected network.

While setting up a secure WiFi connection will generally, (but not 100%) protect data on your network, the reality is it doesn’t matter if you are on someone elses secured or unsecured network. Your data is still at risk. Anyone connected to a wireless network that anyone else can jump on is putting their information at risk. There are many ways to see who’s connected on what wireless connection and gain access to their data.

There are a few things you should do to protect yourself while using wireless;

Be smart about what kind of data you transmit on a wireless connection while in public. Theres no need to transact critical data while sipping mocha-chino.

Don’t store critical data on a device used outside the secure network. I have a laptop and an iPhone. If they are hacked theres nothing on either device that will compromise me.

Install Hotspot Shield. A free ad supported program, Hotspot Shield protects your entire web surfing session; securing your connection at both your home Internet network & Public Internet networks (both wired and wireless). Hotspot Shield protects your information by ensuring that all web transactions (shopping, filling out forms, downloads) are secured through HTTPS. They also have an application for the iPhone too. There is also fee based programs including and HotSpotVPN , with these you can create a safe “tunnel” between a computer and the site’s server.

Turn off WiFi and blue tooth on your laptop or cell phone when you’re not using it. An unattended device emitting wireless signals is very appealing to a criminal hacker.

Beware of Free WiFi connections. Anywhere you see a broadcast for “FREE WIFI” that’s a red flag. That’s someone putting out bait hoping to catch a phish.

Beware of Evil Twins. These are connections that may look legit such as a known brand of WiFi but are in-fact a trap that’s been set to snare anyone who connects.

Keep your antivirus and operating system updated. Make sure your anti-virus is automatically updated and your operating systems critical security patches are up to date.

Invest in Intelius Identity Protect. Because when all else fails you’ll have someone watching your back. Includes a Free Credit Report, SSN monitoring, Credit & Debit Card monitoring, Bank Account monitoring, Email fraud alerts, Public Records Monitoring, Customizable “Watch List”, $25,000 in ID theft insurance, Junk Mail OptOut and Credit Card Offer OptOut.

Robert Siciliano identity theft speaker discussing criminal wireless hack

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