It’s finally happened. Someone in Florida was arrested and charged with unauthorized access to a computer network for using someone else’s wireless Internet connection. The St Petersburg Times has a good article.
In this case, the individual had parked his SUV in front of the house for hours and was busy using his notebook. When the homeowner walked by the car, the man closed his notebook. But, he didn’t leave. Hours later he was still there and the concerned homeowner called the police.
Should you secure your wireless network?
Why should you protect your wireless network? Of course, you don’t want someone to snoop on your data or the files on your computer. You also don’t want them to use your IP address as the source of attackes on banks or credit card companies, to send spam, or worse — and all records pointing back to you as the culprit. The article gives several real-life examples of the issues.
How do you secure the network?
How do you close up the access? Turn on the encryption and set passwords on your wireless connections. The instructions for most wireless routers — and you can easily download a PDF version of your manual if you’ve lost it — walk you through the process of securing the connections. You can read more in my wireless networking article and wireless security article.
Open or Closed — the fine print…
On a final point, remember that the “terms and conditions” of residential service for most Internet Service Providers prohibit sharing your connection outside your residence.