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Laptop Users Warned About Free Wi-Fi at Airports

Laptop Users Warned About Free Wi-Fi at Airports

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Alex Cabrero ReportingMany of us face a threat that has to do with our own personal laptop computers.

It seems there's a growing problem at airports, where hackers are hoping you'll click on their offer for free Wi-Fi Internet access, allowing them to access your personal information.

Here's how it works. Some airports will offer you wireless Internet access for your laptop. In most cases you have to pay for it, which means when you see an offer pop up on your screen for free access, you might click on it. But that access might be offered by a hacker, who only wants your personal information.

There are lots of things you can do while waiting for an airplane, like chat on your cell phone, sleep, or maybe do what Jill Sommerstein does.

Jill Sommerstein, New York City Resident: "This is my work computer. I use everything. It's my life."

She has enough frequent flier miles to make Bill Gates jealous. Everywhere she goes, her laptop is connected to a wireless network.

Jill Sommerstein: "Every airport I go into most of the time."

But there's a threat to her computer that not too many people know about.

Pete Ashdown, X-Mission: "You could lose your credit card number. You could lose your passwords. You could lose your access to your internet. Somebody could pose as you to do some identity theft."

Pete Ashdown, owner of internet company X-Mission in Salt Lake City, says there's a growing problem with wireless Internet access at airports.

Pete Ashdown: "Yeah, it's a new technique for what we call black hats, people who are trying to perpetrate bad things, steal passwords and steal financial information."

He's seen it himself in airports, where all of a sudden an offer for free wireless Internet service will pop up on his laptop's screen.

Pete Ashdown: "Any laptop that uses wireless has the ability to look for these IDs in the wireless air."

But that free access just might be a hacker hoping you'll trust the free deal.

Jennifer Cowan, Chicago Resident: "I use one at home, so I guess that gives me a false sense of security."

Jill Sommerstein: "I think anything with your computer, if it's that important to you, you have to guard your security."

The best way to make sure you're safe is to know what Internet service provider you're using.

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