As someone who often feels "too busy" to take basic precautions with my wireless data, I know I'm playing with fire. Here's a good reminder of why from Joel Gurin of the FCC, who suggests that the recent disclosures about data lapses involving Google and the Apple iPad should be a spur to at least do the easy things.
Gurin links to an excellent government guide on data protection, OnlineGuard.gov.
Here are five steps that are easy to take:
Use encryption to scramble communications over the network. If you have a choice, WiFi Protected Access (WPA) is stronger than Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP).
Most wireless routers have a mechanism called identifier broadcasting. Turn it off so your computer won't send a signal to any device in the vicinity announcing its presence.
Change the identifier on your router from the default so a hacker can't use the manufacturer's default identifier to try to access your network.
Change your router's pre-set password for administration to something only you know. The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack.
Allow only specific computers to access your wireless network.
Time to follow Nike's sage advice and just do it.