Computer Crime Research Center


Users beware: pirates nearby

Date: September 13, 2005
Source: Kanzas City Star
By: Paul Wenske

Naga Jayadev loves the freedom of connecting from a Westport coffeehouse to his corporate office in McLean, Va., using only his laptop computer and a wireless Internet network.

Like Jayadev, more than 10 million computer users have joined America’s Wi-Fi revolution.

Unfettered by cables, they use Wi-Fi (short for wireless fidelity) connections to surf the Net almost anywhere, including “hot spots” offered by a hotel or stores that are set up to provide wireless Internet access for a fee or for free.

“Here I can relax and listen to music while I work,” said Jayadev, a midtown resident who is a business consultant for BearingPoint Inc., an international management firm.

But in recent months, law enforcement authorities nationwide have noticed a dark side: Wi-Fi pirates.

The problem is that Wi-Fi networks are like the old telephone party line. Without proper security, it is possible for outsiders to tap your wireless Internet signal in the same way neighbors used their phones to eavesdrop on the latest gossip.

If you are vulnerable, Wi-Fi pirates can pilfer your wireless signal to surf the Net on your dime. In the worst cases, strangers outside your home or just down the street may monitor where you go on the Net, read your e-mails or access your personal information.

“With the right technical skills, there are ways that once I’m on your signal I can see your home computer and see what you have on it,” said Jeff Shackelford, president of Tech Guys, the Overland Park computer company that wired the hot spot at Kansas City’s Union Station.

A drive around Kansas City revealed not only the growing popularity of Wi-Fi, but just how vulnerable most residential and business systems are to any electronic eavesdropper who comes along.

In a half hour, Kansas City Star reporters detected 228 different wireless computer routers sending out signals in the midtown area. Of those, 126 were protected by passwords. But 102 — or nearly half — were open and unsecured.

Wi-Fi’s phenomenal growth has left law enforcement officials puzzled about when a wireless crime is committed and what to do about it.
Original article

Add comment  Email to a Friend

Discussion is closed - view comments archieve
2010-07-19 13:21:09 - jkydhtciy jysrjhgxkx jdzxfjudxvc ? lkij
2010-07-19 13:20:27 - hi??????? kledijan
2005-09-18 23:07:35 - Boy I can believe it too! I see so many... Doug Woodall
Total 3 comments
Copyright © 2001-2013 Computer Crime Research Center
CCRC logo