UK wireless broadband hijacking found to be common

The latest survey of over 2000 British adults by Moneysupermarket has revealed that 9% admitted to using a wireless ( Wi-Fi ) network without the owner's permission in the last 12 months. Furthermore 47% of broadband ISP consumers now have a wireless network at home but many fail to secure it, which could lead to hijackers making unlawful use of such connections for illegal downloading or other malicious acts.

In addition, one in five (19%) wireless users are not password protecting their Internet at home or admit they don't know if they have password protection in place. This is particularly worrying given the recently proposed new laws, which could see those who are "suspected" of repeated involvement with illegal downloading being disconnected from their ISP.

Most popular activities for broadband hijackers:

* General browsing (77%)

* Emailing (68%)

* Download large files (13%)

* Streaming content e.g. Spotify/BBC iPlayer (12%)

* Downloading adult content (4%)

One recent survey of 1,083 UK wireless network connections by TalkTalk warned that 5% were completely open (no security), 36% used WEP encryption (easily hackable), 56% used WPA encryption (fairly secure but not perfect) and only 3% used the best WPA2 solution (here).

Yet despite these security risks, one in four people (24%) admit they are not aware that anyone in range can access an unprotected wireless network without the owner's knowledge, and a further one in 14 people (7%) thought hijacking was not possible. Some 15% of those doing the hijacking do not feel guilty about it.

Those looking to secure their wireless network should check out our 'Top 10 Wireless (Wi-Fi) Security Tips' article. Most modern ISPs also give you the ability to track how much data is being consumed on your network, which can be used a bit like a bank account for spotting irregular activity/peaks.

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