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Randy The Tech Professor

August 20, 2011 at 7:50 am

Are Your Data Packets Being “Sniffed”?

Hello everyone,

Many of my elderly clients do not secure their wireless network. As I drive around my area of service, on any given day and on any given street, I can usually see five or six available wireless networks – all unprotected (unencrypted).

So what’s the big deal? Why is this so dangerous? Consider the following:

All of the data that is being sent over these unsecured wireless networks can be “sniffed” (seen and captured) by using readily available, free tools. Let’s look at two of these free tools.

1) The very popular Firefox browser has a free extension called Firesheep that will intercept unencrypted data and allow the Firesheep user to hijack the logged in session from the original user.

2) Another free software program called Wireshark will also capture and analyze any packets of data that are being broadcast through the air. These unencrypted packets are simply floating by and Wireshark will grab them and tell you what they contain – like usernames, passwords, and email!

So, what’s the solution? Just one word really: Encryption (a process that makes your data unreadable).

By encrypting your data using HTTPS, WPA2, or VPN connections, you will be protected from someone who wants to sniff and analyze your private data.

Professor Randy says: Don’t get sniffed! Foil any would be data packet thief by always using a secure encrypted connection.


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