from the but,-why? dept
Last fall, we wrote about some plans by the police in Austin, Texas to go wardriving to find open WiFi networks and pressure people into locking up those networks. After a bunch of people got upset about this, noting that open WiFi isn’t a crime, the police backed down. However, it appears other police don’t have any such qualms. As pointed out by Slashdot, police in Queensland, Australia are doing a similar wardriving campaign. The official announcement of the program greatly exaggerates the risk here:
Detective Superintendent Brian Hay said police have identified a large number of homes and businesses within the greater Brisbane area with wireless connections that are not secure or have limited protection. These people may as well put their bank account details, passwords and personal details on a billboard on the side of the highway.
Except that’s really not necessarily true. Banks and most sites that require passwords have long known to make use of SSL encryption. It’s not perfect, but it’s not posting your password on a billboard on the side of the highway by a long shot.
“Unprotected or unsecured wireless networks are easy to infiltrate and hack. Criminals can then either take over the connection and commit fraud online or steal the personal details of the owner. This is definitely the next step in identity fraud.”
That could be true in some cases, but it’s not absolutely true, and plenty of people can be perfectly safe using open WiFi with a few common sense precautions. It’s sad that the police would exaggerate like this.