Google announced today that when they were out taking “Street View” photos in their vans, they were also connecting to unsecured Wi-fi networks to snoop what websites people on those networks were visiting. They are supposedly going to delete the 600 Gigs of data they captured from this snooping.
This is a good reminder to make sure you have encryption turned on in your wireless routers. When you take a router out of the box, security is NOT enabled and anyone can get on your network and even get into your computer to snoop if they wanted to. Most people use unprotected networks to get on the Internet but you are leaving yourself open for more than that.
If you don’t know if your network is secure, just look at your computer’s wireless application. This is usually part of your computer’s operating system. It will show what wireless networks it sees and if they are secure or not. If your network is not protected, you need to go into the router and turn on WEP or WPA security and define an encryption key (WPA is the better security protocol to use, but older routers only have WEP). This key also needs to be added to every computer that you want to access the wireless network.