Wednesday, May 4, 2011

False Porn Accusations Underscore Wi-Fi privacy dangers

Wi-Fi Alliance logoImage via WikipediaNearly everyone is going wireless these days.  It is just more convenient to have the ability to walk around the house with your iPad, use your laptop in a room where no cable connection exists, and is a lot cheaper than running network cable though the house or office.

What amazes me is how many open hotspots there are still around.  With all the news about security issues, bandwidth stealing, and even false allegations of child porn downloading, you would think that securing your home or business wireless would be JOB #1.  But in many cases it isn't.

I can be riding in a car working on my laptop and as we travel down the interstate, run around town or even drive through the rural areas, I get wireless availability notices if I don't bother to turn off my wireless on the laptop.  Out of curiosity, I occasionally pop up the little "connection available" window and take a look at nearby wireless hotpots.

What I see is that there are still a lot of unsecured wireless routers out there.  I have to smile when I see an unsecured wireless with names like, "dontstealmyinternet" or "nointernetforyou" and they are sitting there open to connections.

On the other hand, being in an area with random unsecured wireless routers can also be annoying.  Even today, the wireless networking in your computer wants to connect to wireless, even wireless you don't have any right to.  And, if the signal for an unsecured hotpot is stronger than one that you should be on, you can inadvertently make a connection.

Occasionally I get a call from a friend or client asking me to help with their wireless connection being slow and causing issues.  When I check, I see they have accidentally connected to the neighbor's wireless, or even more concerning to a small business wireless with no security.

Once your laptop or wireless device gets a connection, it will keep it even it if it not the best connection.  In other words, once it connects, it wants to hang on to that connection rather than always making sure that you are connected to the best source or the correct source for the wireless.

You can mitigate that some by setting your wireless properties on your computer to only connect to "preferred" wireless. 


If you are planning on, or already have a wireless router in your home of business, make sure that it is secured, is using at least WPA2 security and has a strong password.

If you are a do-it-yourself person and you are not sure how to make this a certainty, call someone you know who can handle it for you.

You don't want to end up like this guy.


"BUFFALO, N.Y. — Lying on his family-room floor with assault weapons trained on him, shouts of "pedophile!" and "pornographer!" stinging like his fresh cuts and bruises, the Buffalo homeowner didn't need long to figure out the reason for the early-morning wake-up call from a swarm of federal agents.
That new wireless router. He'd gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection, he thought.
"We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night," the man's lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, "Doldrum."
"No, I didn't," the man insisted. "Somebody else could have but I didn't do anything like that."
"You're a creep ... just admit it," they said"
False porn accusations underscore Wi-Fi privacy dangers
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