Feeds

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

The risks of open wireless and the sleuths who use it

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

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. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.