Tech Tip: is your domestic WiFi secured?

A rather horrifying article using a touch too much FUD for my taste but raising an important question: do you know how to check whether your home wireless internet service is secured or open for your neighbours to use for downloading material you’d hate for anybody to think that you were downloading (or even just leeching your bandwidth), and if it’s not secured do you know how to make it secure?

For those who don’t know how, the government has some information at . For those who do know how, what do you think of the information provided there? Have you got something better to offer? There’s an awful lot available on a netsearch.

Image credit: index page thumbnail sourced from 3 Ways to Secure Your WiFi Router

Categories: technology


6 replies

  1. My brother has a friend in Sweden. Everyone leaves their WiFi wide open over there, as Internet access is free to all citizens. “Stealing” bandwidth doesn’t have any monetary cost, so no one cares if their neighbour uses it too. For whatever reason. Security is a matter for the end-device (virus checkers, etc on the PC), not the transport medium.
    We need to get away from thinking that the IP address of a network request means anything. It’s a technological contrivance to assist with packet routing, only. Using it for volume charging, charging different amounts for different services, network caps, or police investigation is beyond what it was intended for and ill-suited for those purposes. You might as well throw Telstra’s executives in jail every time child porn is downloaded by an end-user. It’s going over their long-haul networks after all. Carriage is not intent.

  2. I really don’t like that the article implies that if you don’t lock your wifi it’s your own fault when investigators throw you down the stairs and insult you. The only reason I lock mine is because my cap is so pathetic, and I’m the only person in the street with wifi, so when my neighbours’ grandchildren come to visit, they try to leech from me!
    If investigators can’t work out what computer downloaded what, that’s a big problem with law enforcement, not a warning sign to households (except that Australian bandwidth is expensive and low quality so it’s no good for sharing!)

  3. From the article:

    Nicolas Suzor, a law lecturer at Queensland University of Technology, said that if an unauthorised user illegally downloaded copyrighted material, it could be traced back to the network owner. ”It could be quite difficult to prove that it wasn’t in fact you,” Dr Suzor said.

    Last time I looked, it wasn’t up to suspects to prove that it wasn’t them. Did the law change while I wasn’t looking?
    I’m happy to run a guest network, and my houseguests and neighbours are welcome to do a bit of email or browsing using it when their net connection goes down, or they’re capped, or whatever. I check my traffic levels every week or so to check that I’m not near my allowance, and no-one’s ever used too much yet. Only three or four of my very closest neighbours are in range anyhow.

  4. I used to leave my wireless open but don’t anymore – its just not worth the risk. If someone does abuse it – the cost of ending up on the nightly news being accused of downloading child porn is too high whether you are actually found guilty or not.
    One thing to remember is that even if you have turn on encryption that you need to choose a long and very random password. Also is good to have a non trivial name (ESSID) for the wireless network. Wireless networks are not uncrackable.

  5. My flatmate and I leave ours locked, although we never come anywhere near our cap (it would be more expensive to drop down to a lower cap than it is to keep our big one). It’s not like we’re the only locked wifi around, I can see lots of other locked networks around, and a few unlocked ones.
    My problem is that my computer loooooves to hook onto someone else’s wifi in the neighbourhood, even though a) I’ve told it not to in all the ways I know, b) the unlocked signal is super-weak and c) our wifi’s signal is really strong. I have no idea why, aside from the age of my wireless card/computer, I just wish it wouldn’t.
    Does anyone have any suggestions about preventing this from happening? I’m not opposed to using unlocked wireless generally, I just *don’t need to* and I’m not thrilled with my laptop’s tendency to disconnect from my network and wander off to someone else’s. I can’t try anything right now though – I’m at my parents’ place.

  6. @kayloulee
    If you are running windows.
    Open the “control Panel” from the START then SETTINGS. Select NETWORK CONNECTIONS and select your WIRELESS NETWORK CONNECTION you will get a Wireless Network Connection Status box. Select VIEW WIRELESS NETWORKS, in the box which opens (on the left) is a CHANGE ORDER OF PREFERED NETWORKS. In the opened box you can do all sorts of things including putting your network at the top of the list and select networks you do not want to connect to and open them and select not to ever connect. Too detailed to go into here but search around.
    I agree with you on the “guilty until proved innocent” issue. How can i prove that some wardriver did not hack in and download all sorts of stuff. I still believe that it is better to close the offending site that provides “illegal” material rather than the owner of a network.

%d bloggers like this: