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Keith McCord ReportingIn the world of computer technology it seems like there's another development every week. Now there's something everybody wants. But it could give strangers complete access to your files...
It's called "Wi-Fi", short for wireless fidelity. In simple terms, it allows us to connect to the internet without all the wires and cables. WI-FI set-ups are common in airports and hotels-- no need to plug into a phone jack anymore, just open up your laptop and you're surfing the net and checking e-mail. And, now people are putting Wi-Fi in their homes.
James Nester and I are walking down a sidewalk in a Sandy residential area with a laptop, looking for a free internet connection, and we're having NO trouble finding one.
Walk into just about any computer store and you'll find Wi-Fi equipment for sale. Newer laptops are already pre-wired, or you can buy the wireless modems to hook your system to. Retailers say everyone wants to connect.
Mike Fuller, Exec. V.P., PC Laptops: "The ability to be able to walk around, whether it's walk around your home and be able to sit in the lawn chair in the backyard and surf the internet, or walk from one office to another in your building it's very important to all of our customers now."
The wireless modems have an antenna which broadcasts a signal on a radio frequency. The signal goes out about 200-300 feet, enough to cover the area of your house. But those radio signals don't stop at your front door... they can transmit out to the street or a few houses away.
Free downloadable software can locate the signals, as James and I did. So someone is using your wireless signal to surf the net. So what? If they know what they're doing, an experienced computer whiz can see what else is on your computer.
MIke Fuller: "It's honestly not a difficult thing. It's as simple as clicking on the C-drive, and whatever was on your computer is now on their computer and they have full access to it."
Bank accounts, home budget info., e-mail address books. A malicious person could also put viruses and spyware on your system too.
It's as easy as driving down the street. We had dozens of unsecured internet connections at our fingertips. And, as weird as it sounds, there we were, in a parking lot, laptop on the hood of the vehicle, logging on to ksl.com using someone else's system!
But you can make it less easy for people to log onto your system. What you have to do is activate the security features on your wireless modems. Most people just take the modems out of the box, and hook them up. But in the manual, it tells how you can make your system secure, and keep people out. Computer stores can also help you out too.