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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Going cold turkey while setting up a hotspot

With my wife and I now using laptops as primary workstations at home, we decided to use a Wi-Fi router to share our PLDT myDSL connection. The snaking network cables were threatening to trip us and our kids.

I bought a Linksys WRT54G after reading about its storied history. Mark Stephens, writing as Rober X. Cringely, calls the WRT54G and its Linux system “The Little Engine That Could.”

Linksys wrt54g LINKSYS WRT54G. I used this Wi-Fi router to set up a wireless broadband connection at home. Click to enlarge image.

In my case, it was “the sleep-deprived blogger who couldn’t with the little engine that could.” I did eventually set it up—and I’m now using it to publish this post while downloading tons of files—but only after I went Internet-deprived cold turkey, at home at least.

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