TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Two Cautioned Over Wireless 'Piggy-Backing'

Two Cautioned Over Wireless 'Piggy-Backing'

Peter Griffiths, Reuters (
Wed, 18 Apr 2007 14:29:12 -0500

By Peter Griffiths

Two people have been arrested and cautioned for using someone else's
wireless Internet connection without permission, known as
"piggy-backing," British police said on Wednesday.

The practice, which sharply divides Internet users, has been fuelled
by the rapid growth of fast wireless broadband in homes and people's
failure to secure their networks.

On Saturday, a man was arrested after neighbors spotted him sitting in
a car outside a home in Redditch, Worcestershire, using a laptop
computer to browse the Internet.

A 29-year-old woman was also arrested in a car in a similar incident
in the same area last month.

Both received an official caution, a formal warning one step short of
prosecution, for "dishonestly obtaining electronic communications
services with intent to avoid payment."

They were among the first to be arrested for piggy-backing in Britain.
Gregory Straszkiewicz, from west London, was the first person to be
convicted of the offence in 2005. He was fined 500 pounds and give a
12-month conditional discharge.

"Wireless networks don't stop at the walls of your home," said PC Tony
Humphreys, of West Mercia Constabulary. "Without the necessary
protection, your neighbors or people in the road outside may be able
to connect to your network."

There is a lively ethical debate in Internet chatrooms over whether
piggy-backing is immoral or harmless.

"If it travels through the air it is open season," wrote one
contributor to a Web forum. Another wrote: "If it's out there unsecure
and I'm not trespassing, it's fair game."

Up to a quarter of home wireless connections are unsecured, according
to a recent survey by the consumer finance Web site

Jason Lloyd, the site's head of broadband, said it left people open to
identity theft, fraud and pornography being downloaded using their

"The repercussions can be severe," he said. "It's bad enough when your
neighbors can use your Internet connection freely, but this becomes
far more sinister if someone uses your wireless connection for
criminal activity."

Businesses are also at risk. A survey of 320 companies by the London
trade show Infosecurity Europe found that a quarter have no wireless
security policy.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.

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