Seattle police are investigating a group of criminals who they say have been cruising around town in a black Mercedes stealing credit card data and other information by tapping into wireless networks belonging to area businesses. The group has been at it for about five years, according to an affidavit signed by Detective Chris Hansen, a fraud investigator with the Seattle Police Department. The gang is thought to have stolen more than $750,000 worth of items, mostly from businesses although some from private individuals.
Stealing information from unsecured or from WEP-secured wireless networks is rather easy to do. In the October 30, 2010 edition of this newsletter, I published a Plus Edition article telling how to avoid the problem. In fact, when I am traveling, I always use the VPN that I described to encrypt all of my online connections through wireless and even through wired Internet connections in hotels. Wired connections can be equally risky when you don't know who is sharing the wired connection with you. In hotels, typically all hotel guests can easily tap into the same wired or wireless connection that you are using.