Feeds

Cops raid man whose Wi-Fi was used to download child porn

The risks of open wireless and the sleuths who use it

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

A man recently found a swarm of armed federal agents descending on his Buffalo, New York, home after a neighbor accessed his open Wi-Fi network and used it to download child pornography.

The account, included in a recently published article from the Associated Press, is one of several demonstrating the unintended consequences that come when computer users don't take measures to restrict use of their wireless networks.

A separate man from Sarasota, Florida, the AP said, was similarly raided after someone on a boat docked near his building used a long-range antenna to tap into his internet connection and download “an astounding 1 million images of child porn." And a man from North Syracuse, New York, fell under suspicion of trafficking in illegal videos that were really transmitted by a neighbor.

Even when people try to lock down their networks using WEP, or wired equivalent privacy, their Wi-Fi signals are still under attack. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, authorities in that city have moved to seize a man's car after it was used in a wardriving spree that accessed wireless networks and stole harvested user information.

The 1988 Mercedes sedan contained a long-range antenna and a laptop equipped with software for exploiting weaknesses in WEP that were diagnosed years earlier. The unidentified owner is suspected of belonging to a loose-knit group that has burgled more than $750,000 and often uses information lifted from victims' wireless networks to get a foothold.

“Once a suspect has gained unauthorized access to a wireless network, computers in the vehicle can be used to run programs such as port scanning software and password recovery software designed to breach security on machines within the networks,” police told a court of law.

About 32 percent of people in the US admitted trying to access Wi-Fi networks that didn't belong to them, the AP said, citing a recent poll taken by the Wi-Fi Alliance. About 201 million American households worldwide use wireless networks to connect to the internet.

Many pundits have pointed to the AP report as a cautionary tale exposing the dangers of running unsecured wireless access points. But this misses the point. Many people like the idea of leaving their networks open so others traveling nearby have a way to pull down email or check directions. It seems just as easy to draw the conclusion that mere use of an IP address shouldn't be grounds for armed police to raid a person's home.

Home and business networks that transmit or store sensitive financial information are another matter entirely, of course. And for those WEP should be avoided in favor of WPA or WPA2. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.