Since 1999 we have been offering onsite computer repair I’ve come across countless open Wifi networks. If you use a laptop or other wireless device in an urban area you’ve seen them too. Some networks are set up this way to allow others in the neighborhood to share an Internet connection (though your ISP may frown on this). Others because the person lives far enough away from anyone that they believe distance protects them from hackers or the like. After all, sometimes your Wifi signal doesn’t reach much further than the walls of the house.
The problem is that when your network is open pretty much everything you do on your computer is visible to anyone else on that network, if they know how to look for it. And, while you may not be able to see your wireless network very far beyond the borders of your home, most of the people who want to snoop on your connection have much more powerful antennas that allow them to connect over great distances. It’s also not just your data that you need to worry about. You can also be hurt by what the person connecting to your wireless does with your Internet connection.
The good news is that securing your wireless network is a fairly easy and straight forward process. The reality is that most people who want to do bad things with your wireless connection are looking for an easy score. They will likely see that your network is protected and just move on to greener pastures.