Australian Police Cruise Streets For Unprotected Wifi
As part of its new “wardriving” mission launched Thursday, Queensland police will be driving around neighborhoods checking to see if local wireless connections are secured.
(Image Source: ZDNet )
BY JIM FLINK AND ERIC SHUTE
ANCHOR CHRISTIAN BRYANT
It’s the Australian version of a neighborhood crime watch initiative.
But it involves police in their cruisers -- looking for open hotspots.
Here’s Australia’s 10 News.
“Police are now driving the streets looking for weak links, and they are everywhere."
“Wifi networks are literally all around us. Home offices public places. But many are not locked.”
Police call it -- wardriving. Driving around -- searching for open internet connections.
Police email residents if they find a risk.
They have even invented a cartoon character -- Fiscal the Fraud Fighting Ferret -- who warns--
an open Wi-Fi network can give people access to your internet and subsequently your identity and financial information. Not to mention slow down your internet speeds and make you liable for whatever they’re searching or downloading. Including child porn.
Some critics of the operation find this public awareness campaign -- a bit over the top.
Posting on the popo’s Facebook page , saying cops should have better things to do than cruise and create cartoon creatures.
“I have to be honest. I'd rather this money was spent elsewhere ... you could spend all day trying to explain to grandma her wifi is insecure and how to find someone to fix it for her.”
PC World notes, most modern modems handle this problem on their own.
“Most router manufacturers today ship their products with security enabled by default. More recent routers use the WPA or WPA2 protocols, or both. WPA has known security issues but still is much safer than WEP. It is generally recommended to use WPA2.”
But the Queensland police department says -- consumers are still gullable -- and way too wide open.
“...police have identified a large number of homes and businesses within the greater Brisbane area with wireless connections that are not secure or have limited protection.”
But ZDNet thinks police need to be careful -- that warning doesn’t turn into surveillance itself.
“Queensland Police will need to be careful about what information it gathers as the collection of the hotspot names, hardware addresses and type of encryption employed is public information, but data delivered over these networks, whether they are open or not, is not necessarily considered to be.”