WiFi Poaching

Admit it, we've all done it: used someone's unsecured wireless connection without their knowledge.

It's called WiFi poaching, and there's been debate as to whether it's actually illegal. In Britain, there have been prosecutions for poaching, but in the U.S. the legality is less clear.

Some argue that those who run unsecured connections set themselves up for the situation. But most wireless access points are unsecured by default. Is it the fault of the unwitting consumer, who likely has no idea?

Either way, it's best to protect yourself by enabling security on your wireless access point. The best security is an encrypted passphrase called WPA. There's another standard for passphrases (WEP) but don't use it, as it's easily cracked. Your access point's Web management feature will allow you to set this passphrase, which you will then have to enter on each computer connecting to your wireless network.

It goes without saying--don't give out your passphrase! And while you're in that web management panel, change your access point's default administrator password, to keep snoops from resetting your security.

Do you think WiFi poaching is unethical? Discuss the issue here (click Comments below any article), and be sure to sign up for the email version of Tech Tips for bonus tips and product reviews.

[This article is reprinted from the March 2008 issue of Triona's Tech Tips. Look for more computer security tips in the October issue.]

Posted byTriona Guidry at 11:44 AM  

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