You may want to think twice the next time you connect to the Internet at an airport or coffee shop through wireless access.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning that the popular areas, along with hotels, bookstores, and schools, can be "hot spots" for hackers.
Most public Wi-Fi connections have security measures in place. But many do not, the FBI says. In an unsecure network, intruders can access your personal information by eavesdropping on your computer.
Agent Donna Peterson of the FBI's Cyber Division says hackers can also set up fake wireless networks that directly connect to your computer.
"Another thing to remember is that the connection between your laptop and the attacker's laptop runs both ways," she explained. "While he's taking info from you, you may be unknowingly downloading viruses, worms and other malware from him."
Peterson added that businesses who offer free Wi-Fi usually don't know their networks have been breached. Often, neither does the person who's information is being taken...until it's too late.
For those who use wireless connections, the FBI offers the following tips for keeping your computer safe:
- Make sure security features are always up to date, including your laptop's operating system, web browser, firewalls and antivirus/anti-spyware software.
- When connected wirelessly, don't access personal accounts like online banking, e-mail, and instant messaging.
- Change your computer's settings to connect manually to a wireless network.
- Turn off your computer's Wi-Fi capabilities when you're not using them.
For more on protecting you computer, click here
Source: The Federal Bureau of Investigation
Originally Published May 6, 2008