Computer Crime Research Center


Internet crime on the increase through wireless access points

Date: June 19, 2008

Over the past year, our Computer Crimes Unit has seen an increase in the number of cases involving the theft of Internet use via wireless access points.

It is a crime in Illinois to steal unauthorized wireless access. The term for stealing wireless access is called "War Driving." This occurs when a suspect drives in a car with a laptop and a wireless card and parks in front of a house, which has an unsecured wireless network.

These criminals sign onto the Internet from their vehicles, using your wireless network and perpetuate various crimes such as downloading illegal materials, posting harassing e-mails, making fake MySpace accounts, and even downloading child pornography.

Upon first glance, it appears that these uses for the Internet are coming right from your own home. However, detailed investigation reveals that it is actually someone stealing your unsecured wireless access. We frequently discover that neighbors of the victim are responsible for unlawfully accessing the wireless network in the victim's home.

Most Naperville citizens do not realize this is happening. In November 2007, the Internet Crimes Unit along with the founder of the Naperville-based Honeynet Project (Global Internet Security Firm), conducted an informal experiment to determine how many open wireless access points there were in a portion of Naperville. We drove in the northern quarter of Naperville and we located 2,205 wireless access points. Six hundred and eight of them were unsecured.

That means there could potentially be 608 victims of computer crime in one quarter of the city.

We want Naperville citizens to know that when you purchase a wireless router such as a Linksys or a D-Link router, it is unsecured when it comes out of the box.

To combat the problem of being victimized, you must do one of two things. One, you can set the Service Set Identifier. This is like a password to obtain access to the wireless router. Therefore, anyone who wants access to use your wireless router must enter a password to gain access.

Two, you may set the Media Access Control Filter to maintain a secured wireless router. This control in the wireless network will only allow those computers with the Physical MAC address entered as an approved user of the network. Therefore, the owner of the new wireless router must enter approved laptops to the router in order to use the Internet from your home.

By utilizing these two types of security features, you will be able to help the Naperville Police Department in combating this new threat to our community. For further information on these attacks, you can contact Detective Richard Wistocki of our Internet Crimes Unit at
630-305-5384 or
e-mail him at [email protected]

Add comment  Email to a Friend

Discussion is closed - view comments archieve
2008-09-22 01:23:30 - "various crimes such as ... making fake... freedom is not a crime
Total 1 comments
Copyright © 2001-2013 Computer Crime Research Center
CCRC logo