ferrier-international-alert-logo.jpg-? You’re at the airport waiting for your flight. With time to kill, you’re thinking of connecting your laptop to the airport’s Wi-Fi to check your office e-mail…do some personal banking…or shop for a gift for your spouse.-?

But first, consider this: odds are there’s a hacker nearby, with his own laptop, attempting to “eavesdrop” on your computer to obtain personal data that will provide access to your money or even to your company’s sensitive information.-?

Here’s something else to consider: there are 68,000 Wi-Fi “hot spots”in the U.S. (see the graphic below for the top Wi-Fi countries), at airports, coffee shops, hotels, bookstores, schools, and other locations where hundreds or thousands of people pass through every day. While many of these hot spots have secure networks, some do not, according to Supervisory Special Agent Donna Peterson of our Cyber Division. And connecting to an unsecure network can leave you vulnerable to attacks from hackers.-?

How do hackers grab your personal data out of thin air?Agent Peterson said one of the most common types of attack is this: a bogus but legitimate-looking Wi-Fi network with a strong signal is strategically set up in a known hot spot…and the hacker waits for nearby laptops to connect to it. At that point, your computer—and all your sensitive information, including user ID, passwords, credit card numbers, etc.—basically belongs to the hacker. The intruder can mine your computer for valuable data, direct you to phony webpages that look like ones you frequent, and record your every keystroke.

“Another thing to remember,” said Agent Peterson, “is that the connection between your laptop and the attacker’s laptop runs both ways: while he’s taking info from you, you may be unknowingly downloading viruses, worms, and other malware from him.”-?


Businesses that offer free or ad-hoc Wi-Fi often don’t know their networks have been breached.Individual victims usually don’t realize they’ve been targeted either until it’s too late. That’s why, according to Agent Peterson, there aren’t reliable stats on the number of these breaches, although the FBI does periodically receive reports on them. It’s also very tough to trace a hack that originates on an open, unsecure network.-?

Agent Peterson explained that the criminal aspect comes into play once data taken by the hacker is used to commit a crime. If the hacker, armed with your personal or corporate information or access codes, tries to break into a secured network—whether it’s a case of intrusion, identity theft, bank fraud, theft of intellectual property, or any other type of crime—then law enforcement gets involved.-?

What can you do to protect yourself?Agent’s Peterson’s best advice is, don’t connect to an unknown Wi-Fi network. But if you have to,-?there are some-?precautions you can take to decrease the threat:-?

  • Make sure your laptop security is up to date, with current versions of your operating system, web browser, firewalls, and antivirus and anti-spyware software.

  • Don’t conduct financial transactions or use applications like e-mail and instant messaging.

  • Change the default setting on your laptop so you have to manually select the Wi-Fi network you’re connecting to.-?

  • Turn off your laptop’s Wi-Fi capabilities when you’re not using them.

For more basic information on computer security, see our How to Protect Your Computer webpage.-?

ferrier-international-alert-logo.jpg-?We thank the FBI for warning us of the problems out there, so please beware and take the necessary precautions.



House Robberies : Safety Tips


Reject and report stolen goods

Property crimes such as theft, housebreaking, shoplifting, handbag/cellphone snatching and theft out of motor vehicles lead to unnecessary suffering and impoverishment. If you buy stolen goods, more victims will suffer, because you provide a market for these goods and an incentive for criminals to keep stealing them. As thieves go about stealing goods to meet the demand for stolen goods they commit other crimes along their way and even murder or assault a witness or helpless victim or rape or injure a vulnerable woman or child.

Receiving stolen goods is also punishable by law. Reject any goods you suspect could have been stolen and report it to the police on Crime Stop 08600 10111.

If they stole it and you buy it more victims will suffer.

House robbery: When someone uses violence or threatens to use violence against another person in order to steal something on the residential premises of anyone, house robbery is committed.

If your house has been broken into –

• Contact your nearest police station immediately.
• Wait until fingerprints and statements are taken before touching anything.

• Do not allow private security companies to enter the house or touch anything before the police have arrived.

• A list of the make, model, and serial numbers of electrical appliances and other valuable equipment should always be available for investigation purposes.


• Know all emergency numbers.

• Make provision for good outside lighting, but switch the lights off during the day. Outside lights that are on during the day and post that are left in the gate are signs of no-one being home. Don’t leave your gates, garage, front or back door open or partially open – it serves as an invitation to burglars.
• Never open the door automatically whenever the bell rings or if someone knocks. Make completely sure the person wanting to enter is expected. Domestic workers, garden staff and children are often approached by robbers who act as telephone or TV repairmen, electricians, plumbers, TV licence or municipality inspectors and many other professions. In an effort to gain entrance robbers use a cellphone and make as if they are talking to the owner of the house so as to put pressure on unsuspecting victims to open the gate or door. Those remaining at home should be made aware of these scams. Emphasise the need for security to your domestic worker, so too ensuring his/her own safety. Arrange with people who remain at home on how you will inform them if there is a need for them to open the house for deliveries, maintenance work or repairs. Always use the same procedure and inform the companies involved that they will not gain access unless you have made a specific arrangement.

• A watchdog is a good early warning system. Keep it visible as a deterrent but beyond the reach of strangers. The unexplainable death of a watchdog is a warning sign of a possible burglary.

• If your house alarm goes off, or you hear strange noises or your dogs bark switch on the outside lights.

• Always check the identity of strangers who visit for business purposes, to do deliveries or repairs. Ensure that you stay out of their reach to prevent being grabbed through a closed gate.

• Report suspicious characters who pose a threat to the police. When employing someone request their identity document and make a copy thereof for safekeeping. Check their previous employment references and do security clearances at the police.

• Install the best security you can afford, for example the security gates at outside doors. Keep these gates locked. If possible fix a door viewer and latch chain.

• When approaching your house entrance by foot or by car ensure that it is safe to enter and that you have not been followed. Be aware of persons loitering at the entrance.
• Always keep you keys safe to prevent duplication thereof. Never leave your house keys under a doormat or in a pot plant. Once you have locked your door from the inside remove the key and place it in a safe place.

• Do not leave keys in a hidden place for domestic staff or children, robbers often stake out a house and will find out about these hiding places. Do not give keys to people who do not live on the property or to anyone if it is not absolutely necessary.

• Know your neighbours and build a relationship of mutual trust and support. When going away inform them.

• It is always best to arrange with persons living in the same street as you to be ready at all times to come to the rescue of one another in dangerous or suspicious times. Exchange phone numbers or signalling methods when you find yourself in distress. Your strength always lies in how many people are able to support you in an emergency.

• If you buy luxury goods, cut up the boxes and dispose of these in tied black bags- a branded box is a telltale sign of what thieves could find in your house.

• Keep cash and valuables in banks or safes.

• Store your firearms in a safe.

SAPS CRIME STOP : 08600 10111

FERRIER INTERNATIONAL encourages you to visit your local Police website, like the South African Police Services and you will find valuable information that will assist you and your family against crime. Be wise to Crime.