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Wide White: Lock your Wi-Fi!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lock your Wi-Fi!

Today I bring you a public service announcement. If you use Wi-Fi, lock it up!

"Um...what do you mean, lock it up?

I'm glad you asked! If your wireless router is "locked up," that means it's using WEP, WPA, or WPA-2 encryption. In other words, it means you need to enter a password in order to access the internet through your wireless router.

When you check for an available wireless network, you should see a lock symbol, as you see on the network in my home as well as on all of my neighbors' (except for the last, which isn't a valid network):

"But why should I care if my neighbor wants to use my internet?"

Great question! For the answer, check out this story:
A New York man learned the hard way that leaving your wireless router open to the general public can have some very negative consequences, and that the authorities tend to act first and ask questions second.

You might think it's no big deal to share your wireless network with your neighbors. But that altruism can bite you in the butt when a less scrupulous neighbor, or a random stranger connects to the wireless network and uses it for illegal activity. As far as the authorities are concerned, that illegal activity originates from your wireless router, so you are the primary suspect.

So, what happened? Well, this guy left his home Wi-Fi network unprotected, and a slimy neighbor piggy-backed on his "free" wireless network to access thousands of child pornography images.
So if you or your neighbor wants to freeload off the other, go for it. But keep a lock on your router and know that if you give someone access to your network, you'll be the suspect for any of their illicit activity.



Anonymous Dez declared,

You left out the part where the SWAT team broke into his house, ripped him out of bed, and put assault rifle barrels to his head.

However, Techdirt raised a good point on the possible over agression on the part of law enforcement with this situation.

Still, the lesson is correct. Lock it up, but don't use WEP it's too easy to break into:

4/27/2011 9:16 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Good point on not using WEP.

I also agree that law enforcement is to blame for their aggression. I hadn't read the Techdirt story. It's interesting to see how each story has a different take on the situation. Some are covering the aggression, others are focusing on the unlocked router.

4/27/2011 9:25 AM  

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