Wi-Fi internet leaves users at fraud risk

29-08-2008

Wi-Fi internet leaves users at fraud risk
A sixth of home wireless internet users are leaving themselves open to ID fraudsters by not protecting their connection.

Having no password protection on wireless Wi-Fi connections means users are leaving themselves open to piggybacking – where someone else uses your connection and could gain access to your personal details or download illegal content.

Research by moneysupermarket.com shows 16 per cent of people leave their wireless router unprotected and 11 per cent admit piggybacking someone else's Wi-Fi connection.

James Parker at moneysupermarket said: "One in nine people using another person's Wi-Fi is a staggering amount, you wouldn't expect that many people to go into a neighbour's house and use their shower.

"The consequences can be severe. It's bad enough your neighbours can use your internet connection freely, but this becomes far more threatening if someone uses your connection for criminal or improper activity.

"This could be accessing your internet connection to download obscene material, gathering personal information to defraud you or even stealing your identity."

Beyond security risks, with 37 per cent of broadband deals imposing download limits, victims could face additional charges for excess downloading.

Half of those piggybacking merely check emails of browse the net, but 12 per cent admit using someone else's wireless connection everyday, downloading films and music regularly.

Mr Parker added: "People are learning to be safe online but those using wireless can undo all that by leaving their network unprotected. An unsecured internet connection is just the same as leaving your front door open."

Tips to protect your wireless connection
  • Password protect your wireless internet connection with non-dictionary words and numbers
  • Check that your router uses WPA rather than WEP encryption
  • Know your download limit and what that translates to (i.e. 5 music albums)
  • Make sure you have appropriate security software and a firewall
  • If you have children, consider using parental controls as well as password protection for the router.

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