Sunday, May 11, 2008

Attorney General Consumer Alert

An Attorney General Consumer Alert has been issued.

McCollum Issues Consumer Advisory on Wireless Safety

Advisory follows warning from Federal Bureau of Investigation about
wireless internet safety

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Attorney General Bill McCollum today issued a
consumer advisory cautioning Florida consumers about potential risks
associated with unsecured wireless internet connections. The advisory,
originally issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), warns
consumers about hackers, viruses and other potential issues caused by
using unsecured wireless connections to the internet.

"As technology evolves so do the methods of hackers and other
individuals who can steal your personal information or disable your
computer," said Attorney General McCollum. "Florida’s computer users
should be careful not to trade convenience of access for compromised

According to the FBI, there are 68,000 Wi-Fi "hot spots" in the U.S.,
most commonly located at airports, coffee shops, hotels, bookstores,
schools, and other heavily trafficked locations. Wi-Fi is the common
name for high-frequency wireless technology; hot spots are locations
with networks which consumers can use to connect their computers to
the internet without a physical network connection.

While many of these hot spots have secure networks, some do not and
those unsecured networks can pose substantial risks to computer
users. Personal information, passwords, bank account numbers and
other sensitive information can be compromised over these unsecured
networks. Viruses and worms can also be transmitted much easier over
an unsecured network than through secured networks.

The FBI warns that a common method used by hackers is a bogus but
legitimate-looking Wi-Fi network with a strong signal strategically
set up in a known hot spot for consumers to use. The hacker then
waits for nearby laptops to connect and can mine the computer for
valuable data, record keystrokes, unload viruses or engage in other

Attorney General McCollum offered the following tips to consumers
to protect themselves from becoming vulnerable to attacks over an
unsecured network:

- Consumers should make sure their laptop security is up to
date, with current versions of the operating system, web browser,
firewalls, and antivirus and anti-spyware software.
- Never conduct financial transactions or use applications
like e-mail and instant messaging on an unsecured network.
- Computer users should change the default setting on the
laptops so they have to manually select the Wi-Fi network to which
they’re connecting.
- Disable computers’ Wi-Fi capabilities when not in use.

More information is available at the FBI’s website,

Thank you.

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