WiFi Theft - Is Your Computer Secure?

Real Estate Sales Representative with Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc.

 How many of us use a WiFi connection at home or in local coffee shops? Are you confident that your signal is secure? Do you realize how easy it is to hijack someone's WiFi signal?

With the recent advances in WiFi technology, the signal range for WiFi has significantly increased. Many people with WiFi systems at home have the capability to pick up signal from several hundred feet away. If your WiFi router is not properly secured and password protected, how do you know if someone is stealing your signal.

I often bring a notebook computer to open houses and one of the first things that I do when I get to the house is look for a WiFi signal. Most of the time I strike out, but every once in awhile one of the neighbors will have a signal that I can jump on. Now I am not a great hacker, but if I was I could easily go through the neighbor's computer. In fact, there are people that will sit in coffee shops waiting for people to check their e-mail or bank accounts. I recently read a story where someone noticed a woman parked in a car in front of their home. When the homeowner went out to the car, they noticed that the person was on their notebook. When questioned, they said that they were waiting to pick up a friend. As soon as the homeowner went back in their house the car drove off. This story certainly made me wonder.

So what can we do to protect ourselves? The most important and easiest thing to do is password protect your connections. If you have a wireless router at home make sure you have a password setup. You would be surprised how many people never set up their passwords. A password protected WiFi connection will not stop all thieves, but it will certainly keep the honest people honest.


Ryan Martin, e-Pro®, Realtor® - 360-319-0040

Your Bellingham Real Estate Professional | Bellingham Washington Real Estate

Search all Bellingham Condos and Bellingham Homes for Sale


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Gary Steuernagel ASSOC. BROKER, ABR, CRB
Keller Williams Southwest - Sugar Land, TX

Thanks for pointing this out to everyone's!  It seems the things we need to be aware of constantly expand  as technology grows.

Feb 25, 2009 11:31 AM #112
Ryan Martin
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker

Wow I have really fallen behind on replying to comments. I will just thank you to everyone who has commented and hopefully you are now more aware of your unsecured wifi network.



Feb 26, 2009 05:20 AM #113
Scott Hoen
HollywoodTitleCompany.com - Carson City, NV
COO, Hollywood Title Company 714-270-9607

I have even found businesses having the same problem.  You would think they would know better as well.

Jun 23, 2009 05:19 AM #114
Rosemary Brooks
BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706 - Stockton, CA
The Mother & Daughter Realty Team

Great post and heads up.  I wonder if this is the same for Video conferences where you use your PC?

Jun 23, 2009 07:04 AM #115
Bill Risser
Fidelity National Title - Saint Petersburg, FL
Fidelity National Title - Tampa District

Ryan - This message cannot be overstated.  Protect yourself when online!  Great post and hopefully you saved a couple people from an ID theft nightmare.

Jul 20, 2009 02:05 AM #116
David A. Wheeling
RETIRED as of June 15, 2013 - Morganton, NC
After 30 yrs in real estate, I am now Retired

Great advise. Thank you for sharing.

Sep 12, 2009 11:21 AM #118
Jill Schmidt
Aurora, CO


Thanks for the heads-up.  Do you know how secure the wireless internet connections are through the cell phone companies (Verizon, AT&T, etc.)?  They are not a wireless router, but they use a wireless modem of some sort.


Oct 23, 2009 05:31 AM #119
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

Good advice. Someone got into my computer through the wireless router once. We now use a password!

Nov 01, 2009 11:20 AM #120
Aaron Vaughn, REALTOR© 512-845-4204
eXp Realty - Canyon Lake, TX
My knowledge is your power | eXp Realty

Hack, hack, hack, if you feel you want to. Sing, SIng, SIng if you feel you caaaaaaan. Cry, cry, cry, if you feel you want to ...

Nov 10, 2009 12:35 PM #121
Douglas Fischer
East Oahu Realty - Selling Honolulu, Hawaii Condos - Honolulu, HI

I think it is safer to assume that all WiFi is unsafe and that data theft can occur.

Dec 11, 2009 05:39 AM #122
Norma J. Elkins
Elite Realty Group - Morristown, TN
Realtor - Elkins Home Selling Team

When a business says Free Wifi --- is it safe to use your computer there?

Dec 16, 2009 10:32 PM #123
Sam Miller
RE/MAX Stars Realty - Howard, OH
Knox County Ohio Real Estate Specialist

This wifi topic and the comments have really got my attention.  

Dec 30, 2009 02:55 PM #124
Kerry Lucasse
eXp Realty - Urban Nest Real Estate Group - Atlanta, GA
Your Urban Nest Atlanta Real Estate Consultant

I just purchased my first iPhone and when I want to search online, it looks for local WiFi -- I can't believe how many times I can jump on someone elses signal.  Scary.

Aug 04, 2010 04:58 PM #125
Norma J. Elkins
Elite Realty Group - Morristown, TN
Realtor - Elkins Home Selling Team

Mine is password protected at my home and office --- I am always a little uneasy when ai use it in the public areas - thanks for sharing!

Nov 07, 2010 10:33 PM #126
Patrick Henry
PMZ - Stockton, CA

Password password password. It is way to easy for anyone to just check and see if there is a wifi near by and jump on, but even a low level password will detour most people.

Feb 15, 2011 06:02 AM #127
Jeff & Sarah Linginfelter
Realty Executives Associates - Farragut, TN
Broker, SRS, e-PRO, Married To Real Estate

I use Wi-Fi at home but did not have a password until reading this article.  Thank you!

Apr 02, 2011 06:17 AM #128
M. Lynn Delatte
Developers Realty - Broadview Heights, OH

Our home network is password protected and I don't give it out.  Thanks for reminding everyone to be careful with their computers.  I am getting a new desktop and that will be the only one with permissions to get onto my bank account.

Oct 23, 2012 05:59 AM #129
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

I keep our routers password secured plus have personal firewalls in place.  Nowadays I am more concerned about smart phone security. It is real easy to hack into that data. 

Jan 28, 2014 01:47 AM #130
Rod Pierson
Results Real Estate Inc - Redding, CA
Northern California

Most new routers now have automatic password protection using the devices default password which is typed on a label right on the device, I would recommend to change to a new password and besure to use password protected firewall software protection on any desk and or hand held device, I use my phone more now and very seldom my laptop knowing I am protected and don't have to worry about viruses.   

Jan 28, 2014 09:13 AM #131
Jack O'Neal
HomeSmart Elite Group - Gilbert, AZ

Great article on Wi-Fi, also know where you are and what the name of the Wi-Fi is and Never do On-line banking at free wi-fi sites. Never name your Wi-Fi by  your name or address make it as annoyance as possible 

Feb 02, 2014 06:35 AM #132
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