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Tips to avoid identity theft over Wi-Fi

By Mike Headrick and Jenniffer Michaelson -- Modified: March 5, 2014 at 4:19 pm •  Published: March 5, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY — Wi-Fi hijacking may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but in reality, it's something you could be at risk for every day.

Imagine sensitive information like passwords and account information, stolen right off your phone while it's sitting in your pocket.

Security Researcher Troy Hunt introduced us to the Wi-Fi Pineapple. You may be familiar with the gadget, but it’s what you don’t know that could hurt you. Hunt says the Wi-Fi Pineapple looks to see if your device has a secure connection and if it doesn’t, it tricks your device into connecting to it.

We tested it in our newsroom and found that within minutes, we had multiple phones, tablets and laptops connecting to our fake “free Wi-Fi.”

“When we connect to a network and we say ‘remember this network,’ when we go home or go to work it automatically connects,” Hunt said.

Our devices remember that information and continue to broadcast, sending little probe requests to the names of networks it’s connected with in the past. If your network isn’t protected, then your device will automatically connect. Wi-Fi Pineapples are legal to sell and legal to use, but we have some good advice to keep your sensitive information secure.

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