Unsecured Wireless — A Threat? Or an Excuse? [12:06 pm]
Federal and state law enforcement officials say sophisticated criminals have begun to use the unsecured Wi-Fi networks of unsuspecting consumers and businesses to help cover their tracks in cyberspace.
In the wired world, it was often difficult for lawbreakers to make themselves untraceable on the Internet. In the wireless world, with scores of open Wi-Fi networks in some neighborhoods, it could hardly be easier.
Law enforcement officials warn that such connections are being commandeered for child pornography, fraud, death threats and identity and credit card theft.
[...] [Ex-Secret Service agent Jan H.] Gilhooly said the possibility of crashing into an innocent person’s home forced his team to spend additional time conducting in-person surveillance before making arrests. He said the suspects tracked in his investigation would regularly advise one another on the best ways to gain access to unsecured Wi-Fi systems.
[...] Cybercrime has been known to flourish even without Wi-Fi’s cloak of anonymity; no such link has been found, for example, in recent data thefts from ChoicePoint, Lexis/Nexis and other database companies.
But unsecured wireless networks are nonetheless being looked at by the authorities as a potential tool for furtive activities of many sorts, including terrorism. Two federal law enforcement officials said on condition of anonymity that while they were not aware of specific cases, they believed that sophisticated terrorists might also be starting to exploit unsecured Wi-Fi connections.