15 Jul 2011

Unsecured wireless a problem in Australia

More than 10,000 wireless networks in Sydney, Australia, might be unsecured, posing a serious internet security threat, according to recent reporting done by the Sydney Morning Herald.

A Herald investigation found 2.6 percent of 382 total wireless networks were not password protected. Based on this figure, the Herald estimates there could be 10,000-plus unprotected networks in the whole city. Residential networks are especially likely to be unsecured. The Herald found 50 percent of residences they surveyed did not have password protected Wi-Fi.

The paper warns users that unprotected Wi-Fi networks can be exploited by cyber criminals, pointing to the recent arrest of a Buffalo, New York, man accused of child pornography. He was cleared after three days, and his neighbor, who had allegedly been using the accused man's unprotected wireless internet connection, was taken into custody.

Cyber criminals can also use unsecured wireless networks to attack other computers sharing the network, accessing these systems to glean financial information or disseminate spam, the Morning Herald cautions.

A 2009 Australian Communications Consumer Action Network survey found 20 percent of respondents had been a victim of cyber crime.