After someone sniffed out his password at a free Wi-Fi hotspot and successfully hacked his computer, Igor Mello stays home for the majority of his Web use.

“I trust my network more than anyone else’s,” said Mello, of Plantation, who had several social media sites compromised in the break-in.

Whether at home on their private networks or at a local coffee shop or library, Internet users should always protect themselves and their computers while surfing on Wi-Fi networks, experts say.

“It’s like putting a lock on your door of your house. That’s not going to stop a determined bad guy, but it’s going to keep the wandering neighbor from making use of your Internet connection without your knowledge,” said
Eric Johnson
, a computer security expert at Florida International University.

To protect themselves at home, users can utilize security measures available in their Wi-Fi routers and access points such as Wi-Fi Protected Access versions 1 and 2, according to Johnson, who is systems and networking manager for FIU’s School of Computing and Information Sciences.

WPA and WPA 2 encryption is built into any hardware that is branded “Wi-Fi Certified,” a seal given to products authorized by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a nonprofit consortium of technology companies.

Full Story:

By Jorge L. Valens, Sun Sentinel
August 20, 2010