JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - In recognition of Data Privacy Day, Attorney General Jim Hood warns Mississippi residents to protect their personal and communications data by encrypting their own wireless Internet networks.
The Attorney General's warning stems from his investigation into Google's collection of unencrypted data from consumers' home networks.
"Just as you would not leave your doors unlocked if you knew a burglar was lurking in your neighborhood, you should not leave your computer unlocked for anyone on the street to gain access to it by way of your wireless router," said Attorney General Hood. "Consumers should know that the wireless routers they purchase from the store are not automatically encrypted, and they need to activate the encryption feature to ensure better protection."
Last year, Google announced that it had been collecting unencrypted payload data over wireless networks
Payload data can consist of user emails, passwords, and browsing activity. Mississippi and other states are continuing to investigate Google's collection of this data.
Manufacturers often deliver wireless routers with the encryption feature turned off. To turn encryption on, consumers should check with the instructions come with their wireless router, or visit the router manufacturer's website.
OnGuard Online, a group of federal government agencies and technology industry experts, recommends additional steps to secure your wireless network and ensure safe web browsing. The steps can be found at: http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/wireless-security.aspx.
Data Privacy Day, internationally recognized on Jan. 28, brings awareness to an individual's right to protect their most sensitive and personal data. The day brings together businesses, individuals, government agencies, non-profit groups, and academics in a discussion about how personal data is collected, used, and stored.
This and other alerts can be found at www.agjimhood.com.
Consumers can report issues to the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office at 1-800-281-4418.