One In Eight 'Borrows' Neighbors' Wi-Fi - InformationWeek

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Commentary
4/17/2008
01:38 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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One In Eight 'Borrows' Neighbors' Wi-Fi

Using others' Wi-Fi is apparently like speeding: As long as no one notices, it's OK. Problem is, both are against the law (in some regions). That doesn't seem to bother 12% of U.S. and U.K. users, who think nothing of hopping onto unsecured Wi-Fi networks. You'd better hope it's not your employees.

Using others' Wi-Fi is apparently like speeding: As long as no one notices, it's OK. Problem is, both are against the law (in some regions). That doesn't seem to bother 12% of U.S. and U.K. users, who think nothing of hopping onto unsecured Wi-Fi networks. You'd better hope it's not your employees.I am guilty of speeding, but not of stealing Wi-Fi. I just don't do it. Perhaps that's one benefit of having a wireless modem for my laptop. I know I have my own Internet no matter where I am, so why bother using someone else's?

The data about Wi-Fi theft comes from a recent Accenture study. Those aged 18 to 34 are most likely to be the culprits of Wi-Fi stealing, with almost 33% of that group claiming to have done it at some point in recent memory. Americans are a bit more likely to infringe on Wi-Fi than Brits. One in seven, or 14%, of U.S. respondents indicated that they occasionally use free Wi-Fi.

If I were an IT manager, I'd be worried about that percentage. Keep in mind, the study polled U.S. and U.K. residents, you know, average people. The percentages likely bleed over into the corporate world, too. Are your mobile workers putting your enterprise at risk by using unsafe, nonencrypted networks for business purposes?

There are definitely steps IT can take to prevent that from happening. Use Wi-Fi aggregators such as iPass to provide your employees with Wi-Fi access in thousands of locations. Use strong authentication protocols. Enforce the use of VPNs. Give them wireless modems. You get the idea.

Make it hard for employees to grab free, unprotected Wi-Fi. The harder it is to do, the less likely they are to do it.

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