You just moved into a new Willow Creek Crossing apartment, and you flip open your laptop to check email before you remember you don’t have any internet service yet.  So, out of curiosity, you click on the network icon and up pops a list of ten or twenty (or more) WiFi networks with useable signals in your apartment.  Huh???

Well, remember, apartments are close together, and if every apartment has its own WiFi router, you’re bound to be able to pick up the signals from next door, upstairs, downstairs, etc.

Of course, if you can pick up theirs, they will be able to pick up yours.

If you try to click on any of these available networks to see if you can connect to the internet through them, you will probably find that most are “secured” and you will see either the initials WEP or WPA next to their names.  In order to borrow their internet, you will need a password.

This security system is usually set up by the internet provider, such as Frontier or Comcast in our area.  If you set up your own apartment WiFi, you have to manually set up this security.  Given a choice, don’t use WEP security.  It’s been around awhile, and isn’t considered secure any long.  Use WPA or better yet, WPA-2 (also called 802.11i standard.)

OK, so you’re a generous person, and you don’t care if someone uses your internet for free?   Consider that if they are using it to download streaming videos, this will slow down your own internet service.  But worse yet, if they are downloading or uploading something illegal, this can be traced back to the person who owns the internet service, which is you.  People who do illegal things on the internet look for opportunities where they can use someone else’s internet service to do their dirty work, so they will go undetected.  You, on the other hand, will have a lot of explaining to do, and will have not way to prove it was your neighbor who was really guilty.

There are other horrible things that people can do to your computer if you leave your network unprotected.  The important thing is, take a few minutes and make sure you are properly set up and using your WPA or WPA-2 security.  If you are secured  now with WEP, change over to WPA or WPA-2 (also called 802.11i standard.) Sure, you’ll have another password to deal with, but that’s just life in the digital age.  You lock your apartment door, and take a key with you when you go out, right?

For more information about internet security in apartments or homes, click here.