Over 50% of people polled admitted they had stolen Wi-Fi internet
access from others.
IT security and control firm Sophos has revealed new research
into the use of other people's Wi-Fi networks to piggyback onto the
internet without payment. The research, carried out by Sophos on
behalf of The Times,
shows that 54 percent of computer users have admitted breaking the
law, by using someone else's wireless internet access without
According to Sophos, many internet-enabled homes fail to
properly secure their wireless connection with passwords and
encryption, allowing freeloading passers-by and neighbours to steal
internet access rather than paying an Internet Service Provider
(ISP) for their own. In addition, while businesses often have
security measures in place to protect the Wi-Fi networks within
their offices from attack, Sophos experts note that remote users
working from home could prove to be a weak link in corporate
"Stealing Wi-Fi internet access may feel like a victimless
crime, but it deprives ISPs of revenue. Furthermore, if you've
hopped onto your next door neighbors' wireless broadband connection
to illegally download movies and music from the net, chances are
that you are also slowing down their internet access and impacting
on their download limit," explained Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos. "For this reason, most ISPs put a
clause in their contracts ordering users not to share access with
neighbours - but it's very hard for them to enforce this."
Have you ever used someone else's Wi-Fi
connection without their permission?
Sophos online survey, 560 respondents, 31 October - 6
Sophos recommends that home owners and businesses alike set up
their networks with security in mind, ensuring that strong
encryption is in place to prevent hackers from eavesdropping on
communications and potentially stealing usernames, passwords and
other confidential information.
"If you're not encrypting your wireless communications then it's
not hard for cybercriminals in your neighborhood to snoop on what
you're doing, whether it's surfing or remotely accessing work
documents. They may even be able to infect your computer with
malware designed to commit identity theft," continued Cluley. "It's
essential that your Wi-Fi connection is encrypted and that you have
not chosen a password for your router which is easy to guess or
crack. The problem is that a lot of Wi-Fi equipment is not properly
configured when it comes out of the box, or is a headache to
Disclaimer: Please bear in mind that this poll is not
scientific and is provided for information purposes only. Sophos
makes no guarantees about the accuracy of the results other than
that they reflect the choices of the users who participated.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.