The Double Dangers of Open Wi-Fi

When it comes to secure Wi-Fi, the weakest link in your network chain could be an open and vulnerable home Wi-Fi network linked to the office. If this home user has remote access to your network, then your network is vulnerable. Once an intruder enters this open network, they can access your company information, steal passwords, or send viruses and spyware.

Many home networks are breached through file sharing programs. An intruder on your wireless LAN can have access to any file, whether personal or business-related, if it's file sharing enabled. File sharing is enabled as the default position in Windows XP Home Edition, and it's easy to bolster your security by disabling it.

Disable file sharing by clicking on Start and then going to Control Panel. Click NetworkConnections and then double-click Local Area Connections. After hitting the Properties button, a dialogue box will open with checked boxes. Uncheck the box "File and Printer Sharing," click OK, and you're done.

However, disabling file sharing won't protect your unsecured wireless connection. Another user could use it to run illegal operations like downloading child pornography, exchanging copyrighted material such as music and movies, and hacking into other computers.

Any activity done through your connection could be linked to you. This could lead to subpoenas, months of legal hassle, and the confiscation of your computer.

Likewise, if you piggyback on another person's open Wi-Fi network, you may be subject to prosecution. There aren't many legal precedents for this, but these are WiFi poaching cases pending in Michigan, Florida and Great Britain.

You may not plan to harm anyone, but the legal environment is changing around this issue. In the future, it may be considered trespassing or theft.

Remember, your wireless security has ramifications beyond your company walls.


About Brent Whitfield

Brent Whitfield is CEO of DCG Technical Solutions, Inc., which provides IT Support in the Los Angeles area since 1993. DCG exists to help our clients choose, implement, and manage IT and cloud solutions that are cost effective and reliable. DCG's pro-active approach to IT is ideally suited for companies who depend on reliable IT infrastructure, but don't want to spend a lot of money to keep it that way. DCG was recognized among the Top 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP Mentor. Brent has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business.


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