People who have a limited amount of wireless minutes to work with each month understand the importance of blocking external access to their Wi-Fi networks. Going over their monthly limits could literally cost them hundreds of dollars. What they and many others may not know is that neglecting to secure their Wi-Fi networks could have dire consequences. Small-business owners, too, must take heed of a warning that comes from the Queensland, Australia police department.

In the US, most people have heard of McGruff, the Crime Dog that encourages people to “take a bite out of crime …” all crime. Well, McGruff has a counterpart in Australia:  Fiscal the Fraud Fighting Ferret. Fiscal alerts people to the dangers of not protecting their Wi-Fi access. Unsecured Wi-Fi access, Fiscal warns,

  • gives criminals open access to your files, including your identification information and financial data
  • allows criminals to use the Internet time that you pay for
  • dramatically slows your Internet speed
  • allows criminals to commit offences on your network and leave you at risk
  • allows others to monitor what you do on the Internet

In an effort to protect both residents and local business owners, Queensland police officers will drive the streets of Brisbane “in targeted areas” and use laptops to determine which residents and businesses have unsecured Wi-Fi connections. The police will discretely alert those whose networks are unsecure and, presumably, let them know the dangers of not securing their networks as soon as possible. The police will drive through the same areas later to see if those who’ve been warned of their Wi-Fi status have taken steps to secure their networks.

This extra effort on the part of the Queensland police, known as the War Driving Project, officially launched on Mar. 22, 2012 as part of Australia’s National Consumer Fraud Week. Those who have it should know that, according to the Queensland police, wired equivalent privacy (WEP) encryption is an older form of security or encryption and no longer provides sufficient protection. Those who are interested in learning more about the War Driving Project or how they can go about securing their Wi-Fi networks are encouraged to visit the Queensland police website at http://www.police.qld.gov.au/safewifi.

The police have been met with some opposition, as the comments to one BrisbaneTimes.com article indicate. Residents believe that the police should be spending their time chasing existing bad guys rather than worrying about potential ones. Do Queensland residents doubt that their police department has enough officers to catch existing villains while simultaneously doing what they can to help residents and business owners protect themselves from potential ones?

As any business owner who’s ever lost important company information to hackers can attest, such losses are no small matter. The same can be said for those who’ve had their identities stolen. The damage that can be done to finances and reputation are immense enough that people should be grateful that the police are making time do something to prevent crime rather than waiting for a crime to happen and then going after the perpetrators.

Need help securing your business WiFi or even the wireless in your home?  Give us a call today and we can help you.