February 20, 2016
Two men have been arrested for unlawful access to a wireless network. Some readers may remember this has occurred before. The short article in the Berwick Advertiser specifies the incident happened around lunchtime on Sunday 17th February and implicated two men with laptops sat in a parked car.
No solid information is specified on what condition the wireless network was in, though it is probable that it was an insecure or “open” wireless network with no security options enabled. Even those using WEP encryption are nonetheless susceptible and everybody ought to be using WPA or WPA2 encryption where feasible. The advice from the original article suggests following manufacturer’s instructions, which can on occasion be relatively difficult, principally for non-technical users.
The procedure of securing your wireless network differs according to the hardware and frequently people can find that one part of hardware they own will not operate with the best encryption levels so a less secure alternative needs to be used. Online resources have easy to follow guide on securing your wireless network which will give you the background information as to what to look for in hardware documentation. If your broadband provider supplied the hardware it is worth checking the support section of their website for information.
This is an appropriate moment to promote all wireless access point manufacturers and broadband service providers to make certain that they ship devices with security options enabled and only allow ‘low security’ or ‘open’ modes to be enabled after the user confirms unequivocally that they are conscious of the potential consequences.
It will merely be a matter of time before an innocent user in a car is arrested for using their laptop with a 3G broadband or Bluetooth Internet link completely lawfully. We hope that the police will coach all their officers to differentiate between legal and illegal activity.