Special Report: Wifi- Wired for Theft Part 2 - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Special Report: Wifi- Wired for Theft Part 2

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First we start at home. Within minutes of pulling into an apartment complex, a Homeland Security Agent X and I find an unsecured wireless network.

To protect the integrity of the Special Agent, News13 will call him Agent X for this report.

Once finding a connection, it only takes one tap of the finger.

Corey: "I have bars now, so I can use this for hours."

"Exactly," said Agent X.  

Corey: So, I can just sit here."

"And not only that, but any person can be using their wireless that they are paying for and they are not paying a dime for it," said Agent X. "It's basically free Internet free services. Like I said, say you were someone who wanted to download child pornography, if you download child pornography now, and we received the information on who was downloading it, it would come back to this IP address."

By definition an IP address is a unique string of numbers separated by periods that identifies each computer attached to the Internet.

Agent X recalls many incidents where houses are raided at the expense of an innocent resident.

"So, we found already two unsecured networks and I would say what three minutes?" said Agent X.

"I will not set up somebody's wireless at their house unless it is secure," said Dale Williamson.

Dale Williamson considers himself an expert in this field. Every morning he makes his rounds to customers and businesses. As a computer specialist he is constantly dealing with the changes in technology.

"There's really so much software out there that I have to read up on it daily," said Williamson.  

At his little shop in downtown Panama City, Williamson stays busy. He fixes everything from broken screens to blown motherboards. He also installs wireless networks, making him familiar with the dangers.

"It's hard enough as it is to keep yourself safe, much less leaving yourself wide open," said Williamson. "Why would you do that?"

So how do you protect yourself? Both Special Agent X and Williamson say the same thing: start with your password.

"You need to use capital letters, you need to use punctuation, you need to use numbers, and don't make it your home address," said Williamson. "Don't put your last name on it. Make it hard, make it difficult, make it invisible if you have to, as much as you can to try to provide yourself more security."

Also, create a password that isn't necessarily a manufacturer equipped password. Make sure it's long and you only allow individuals that you trust to access your secure network, and if you don't know how to access your router to change the passcode, hit the reset button.

"There is a reset button on the back of it," said Williamson. "If you have to reset your whole router. Start all over again. Change it every once in a while. If you have to, it's not a big deal.  If you forgot your admin password you can also reset. Don't just leave it because you don't know how to get into it."

It's important to remember that these methods do not guarantee protection. But you will be better off.