Thursday, October 16, 2008

PiggyBacking is not allowed in Belgium.

During my visit to the Virus Bulletin conference 2008 2 weeks ago a man was arrested in Belgium for using someone else's unsecured Wifi connection to get on the Internet. (More details in Dutch available here).
The case is interesting because the only thing this guy did was use the connection to get onto the Internet - what we call Wifi "piggybacking," or logging on to someone's open 802.11b/g/n network without their knowledge or permission. And quite a lot fo countries (such as the UK and Belgium) have laws making this illegal. Stealing Wifi Internet access may feel like a victimless crime, but it's wrong nonetheless. You could be depriving ISPs of revenue. Furthermore if you've hopped onto your next door neighbors' wireless broadband connection to illegally download movies and music from the Internet, chances are that you are also slowing down their Internet access and impacting on their download limit. From a security point of view, if someone can access your network, they can misuse that network, and (potentially) the computers on it. And Belgian law enforcement want to make an example of the man arrested last week. So to stay on the right side of the law, do yourself a favour: don't go using anyone else's network without permission. And make sure that your network and router are secured - you may be ethical, but that doesn't mean that everyone else is.

If you want to read more about this, please read also my posting from 10 October at the weblog from Kaspersky Lab.