April 25, 2011, 1:53 PM — A New York man learned the hard way that leaving your wireless router open to the general public can have some very negative consequences, and that the authorities tend to act first and ask questions second.
You might think it's no big deal to share your wireless network with your neighbors. But that altruism can bite you in the butt when a less scrupulous neighbor, or a random stranger connects to the wireless network and uses it for illegal activity. As far as the authorities are concerned, that illegal activity originates from your wireless router, so you are the primary suspect.
So, what happened? Well, this guy left his home Wi-Fi network unprotected, and a slimy neighbor piggy-backed on his "free" wireless network to access thousands of child pornography images. He's not the first to fall victim to this scenario, and, unfortunately, he won't be the last.
It is important that you lock your wireless network down. WEP (wired equivalent privacy) encryption has as many holes as Swiss cheese, and can be easily cracked in a matter of seconds, but even turning on such weak protection is better than nothing. If you scan any given neighborhood for wireless networks, you will find at least one that has no encryption turned on, and that low-hanging fruit is the network that will draw attention rather than a network that requires hacking to connect to.