Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Home routers not protected by passwords could be hijacked for criminal purposes: downsteam liability question?

NBC today had a story about a man in Sarasota, FL who was briefly and falsely accused of distributing c.p. (the FBI came to his home pounding on the door) when his wireless signal was used from a building hundreds of feet away, possibly with a Pringles device.  He had not password-protected his home wireless signal.

Wireless routers generally provide a step for a user to supply a password as part of setup. If you have to use such a password to add additional (laptop) computers to your router home network, it is protected (although the password ought to be strong).

This is not the same issue as Firewall protection of outbound wireless protection from your laptop, especially in a public place. This is the router itself. 

Home users could face considerable expense in defending themselves if their wireless router signals were borrowed for any illegal purpose.  Whether  a home router owner could face civil risks for negligence for not protecting  a router if it were hijacked could be an interesting question.  It’s not necessarily true that your ISP is involved, because this just about the router itself, which does not need to use the ISP’s Internet connection. If it were involved, there could be a TOS issue with not protecting a router.

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