Wi-Fi piggybacking widespread, anti-virus firm warns

While setting up a Wi-Fi network for the PLDT myDSL connection at home earlier this week, I got a timely warning from a press release. Anti-virus company Sophos said many people now use someone else’s wireless Internet connection without their permission.

Sophos said 54 percent of 560 respondents who took their online survey admitted to using other people’s Wi-Fi connection without their permission. The survey is not scientific and I don’t see how you can see a “widespread” trend from it. But it does provide a timely warning to home users who have gone wireless.

Sophos said “many Internet-enabled homes fail to properly secure their wireless connection with passwords and encryption, allowing freeloading passers-by and neighbors to steal Internet access rather than paying an internet service provider (ISP) for their own.”

I don’t know how common Wi-Fi piggybacking is in Cebu or in the Philippines, save for anecdotal feedback from geeks I know. I’ve heard of maybe three persons who said they were able to use an unsecured wireless network.

Still, the absence of reports should not be a reason to be complacent and just leave your home Wi-Fi network unsecured. This absence of reports may be because none have been caught.

And with more mobile devices like phones having the capability to use Wi-Fi, the risk will only get higher.

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Killing geeks can be fun

Boy, I didn’t know I had it in me. I’m in Manila for the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program finals, which formally opens today at the SM Mall of Asia. Last Wednesday, organizers decided to host a paintball competition for participants at Global Gutz (a name that takes the wimp out of anyone) and, for kicks, I joined.

Paintball at Global Gutz LET’S GET IT ON. My team during the paintball tournament staged by Smart for Sweep participants. Click on photo to view larger image.

I was initially drafted into the Smart team, which eventually won the competition, but I switched sides when the game was about to start. A Smart team member who was assigned to another team asked to switch places with me, with the pledge he won’t shoot me on the field.

I was bent on staying as far back as I could and play sniper, which is what I do in Counterstrike. I do not have the heart of a Thermopylae warrior and was ready, as soon as we were overrun, to fire all my bullets and raise my hands to indicate I was out of ammo to get myself out of the game.

But there’s something about putting on a combat vest and mask. The enveloping threat of suffocation in soaring heat seems to unleash repressed demons.

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