More than half of computer users have illegally logged on to someone else's Wi-Fi connection, according an investigation by The Times in the United Kingdom.
Often called "Wi-Fi tapping" or "piggybacking," the practice has blossomed over the last few years as the proliferation wireless and open access points allowed strangers to access the Internet without paying for it.
Police regard it as a serious offense because intruders can download pornographic materials and illegal images without being caught. Only the legitimate holder of the Wi-Fi account is likely to be tracked down.
Officers are also worried that criminals can use unsecured wireless connections to steal personal details such as passwords and credit card numbers and use them to commit identity theft.
There is some debate about the validity of the survey over at The Register, which was based on data collected from a "Have Your Say" survey conducted by security-specialist Sophos:
... apparently 54 per cent of the 560 people who responded admitted nicking bandwidth from insecure Wi-Fi routers. This might say more about Sophos customers than the general population, and extrapolating the results to every computer user in the country is probably a crime against statistics: so that's exactly what The Times has done
Still, it is not hard to see that Wi-Fi tapping is probably quite common.
What is the legal situation pertaining to Wi-Fi tapping where you live, and what is your personal opinion of it?
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Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.