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Updated: Friday, April 26 2013, 04:47 PM EDT
COLUMBUS -- If you think you’re safe logging on to “free” wi-fi, experts say think again. Matt Curtin, founder of Interhack, a computer expert firm in Columbus, says if you do your most precious information may be at risk.

"We just make assumptions we have security from end to end and typically we do not," Curtin said.

Curtin says all it takes is free software found on the internet, and a bad guy could create a fake wi-fi hotspot, then lure people in.

"Things that people will use to entice people to connect to them will say free anything," Curtin said. "Free internet, free wi-fi. Free, free, free, people love to connect to free."

Once you log-in, the hacker will then begin recording most of the information going back and forth between the user and the internet sites he or she visits.

"So if you sent your name, your telephone number, if you sent personal information, if you sent some innocuous communication, if you sent a love note, any of those things you send or receive are now available to the interceptor," Curtin said.

Passwords and usernames are more difficult to get for the typical bad guy because most sites like your bank, Facebook and Twitter use secure log-ins. But if you're on long enough, Curtin says, you'll likely use a username and password to a site that isn't protected. Surveys show most people use similar passwords so once they have one, they can begin to piece together others potentially. So Curtin says avoid using the same passwords and usernames for everything.

Also don't dismiss security warnings that pop up on your computer. Curtin says a trap many users fall into is moving too fast and not processing the information in front of them before moving forward.

"The process of using a computer has become a little bit like 'whack a mole'," Curtin said. "It's like a game where the objective is to make the pop-ups go away as fast as possible." 

For more information about how to protect yourself, you can visit:


Reporter: Adam Aaro
Web Producer: Kellie HannaSPECIAL REPORT: Free WiFi Dangers

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