We are all now well aware of the threats facing computers, such as DDos attacks against servers, what exactly a zombie computer is and some hacks which have hit the newspapers like the story of a man in Tampa Bay who was caught “stealing” someone else’s broadband connection. The individual hacked into a wireless internet network. While this may seem innocent enough consider that the person who gains entry into the network could be using your connection to surf for porn or worse it could be child porn, with the trail leading to your connection.
While the law is catching up and some experts in the police and other law enforcement agencies have the skills to determine whether you actually did the downloading of illegal material or if your computer and connection was unwittingly compromised not everyone has these skills and it’s far easier (and less costly) to prosecute than to do the investigation required to clear the individual.
In fact you may need to have your own experts helping you prove your innocence!
Another similar story of broadband/wireless signal theft from out of the UK, where several individuals have been charged using someone else’s broadband connection.
While the fines have been hefty, it is a clear indication that while the justice system is working towards protecting individuals they are in uncharted territory.
WIFI theft is becoming an national and international issue, there have been warnings issued in Canada. In an extreme case in 2003, Toronto Police stopped a man who was naked from the waist down. He had a laptop computer in his car and was driving down a residential neighborhoods downloading child pornography.
Want to see how EASY it can be to crack even a secure connection?
This video was found on YouTube, along with dozens of others showing you step-by-step how to crack WEP (secure wireless connection). Scary.
So while your connection can be hacked, you should still secure your connection. Should someone use it and implicate you, you can still show the authorities that your connection was secure but it was hacked.
7 Things You Must Consider To Secure Your Wireless Connection
- Secure your wireless router or access point administration interface.
- Don’t broadcast your SSID.
- Enable WPA encryption instead of WEP.
- Remember that WEP is better than nothing.
- Use MAC filtering for access control.
- Reduce your WLAN transmitter power.
- Disable remote administration.
On my wireless home network I do not broadcast my SSID, and I have enabled and configured WPA with a fairly “random” key. I also use MAC filtering to control who can come into the network even if I’ve given them the key and I have disabled remote administration.
Another story of a Michigan man who in 2007 used a coffee shops unsecured internet connection to download and check his e-mail. Luckily he was not charged, otherwise he could have spent up to 5 years in jail. Piggybacking or using someone else’s WIFI connection without their permission is a felony. In the end the individual paid only a $400 fine and will do 40 hours of community service. However if he had gone into the coffee shop, it would have been fine.
If you have ever borrowed someone else’s wireless connection – you should think twice. If the letter of the law is followed, you could end up with serious fines, jail time and worse, a record that will follow you for life.
If you have a wireless internet connection in your home, or office – secure it! Not only are you protecting yourself, your business and its assets but you could be preventing someone from launching devastating attacks against commercial systems, or allowing terrorists from using open systems to communicate with others and even stopping the flow of child pornography.
Forget about what could be done using your wireless connection – consider that many of us store our entire lives on our computers: digital images, movies, banking information, and even e-bills. If someone gets unauthorized access to your computer, you risk having your identity stolen. You need to ensure your computers are sufficiently secured to prevent unauthorized access to its contents.
The onus is on you to ensure you are protecting yourself. If you do not know how to secure your systems, there are many companies that will come to your home and help you secure your computer and wireless connections from unauthorized use.