Are You Stealing Your Neighbor's Wireless Internet?

Don't lie. We know that a lot of people are doing it; you're not alone. According to a recent national survey, 32 percent of people admitted that they have "borrowed" their neighbor's unencrypted Wi-Fi connection at some point. Only 18 percent admitted the same in a similar poll taken in 2008.

"The reality is that many consumers have not taken the steps to protect themselves," said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director at the Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit trade group that commissioned the surveys.

Sharing an open Wi-Fi hookup might seem neighborly. But a nosy neighbor could use eavesdropping software to monitor your online haunts. A free, easy-to-use eavesdropping tool called Firesheep has been downloaded more than 1 million times since last year.

"With Firesheep, almost anyone can effectively hack into your Facebook, Twitter and other accounts," says Randy Abrams, director of technical education at anti-virus firm ESET. "Almost anyone has the skill to use Firesheep to be a nosy neighbor."

You can repel moochers and snoopers by taking a few simple steps while configuring your wireless network. "But much like the seat belts in your car, you won't get protected unless you use it," Davis-Felner says.

Muddled perceptions about Wi-Fi security persist. "People who don't understand the technology simply have faith," says Chet Wisniewski, senior security adviser at network security firm Sophos.

The widespread, seemingly innocuous use of public Wi-Fi hot spots doesn't help as it tends to convey a false sense of security, he says.

Read the full story at ABC News.