BOSTON -- 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 shows that 54 percent of computer users have admitted breaking the law, by using someone else's wireless internet access without permission.
According to Sophos, many internet-enabled homes fail to properly secure their wireless connection properly with passwords and encryption, allowing freeloading passers-by and neighbors to steal internet access rather than paying an internet service provider (ISP) on 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 defenses.
"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 neighbors - but it's very hard for them to enforce this."