Heavily armed federal agents recently raided the home of a Buffalo, N.Y. man, suspecting him and his wife of downloading child pornography through their wireless signal. For two hours that March morning in Buffalo, agents tapped away at the homeowner's desktop computer, eventually taking it with them, along with his and his wife's iPads and iPhones.
"We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night," the man's lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, "Doldrum."
"No, I didn't," he insisted. "Somebody else could have but I didn't do anything like that."
"You're a creep ... just admit it," they said.
Later on, in next three days, investigators determined the homeowner had been telling the truth: If someone was downloading child pornography through his wireless signal, it wasn't him. About a week later, agents arrested a 25-year-old neighbor and charged him with distribution of child pornography.
The case is pending in federal court.
Just last week, Seattle Police seized a Mercedes they say was used for hacking into wireless networks of several small and medium-sized businesses in the Puget Sound area over the past few years. Authorities say the Mercedes sedan allowed the hacker to drive around and break into wireless networks to steal personal data.
In a case of "wardriving," Seattle Police Detective Chris Hansen said the car's owner is suspected of using the car to haul around electronic equipment to break through networks using a 12-year-old security algorithm, Wired Equivalent Privacy, according to the seattlepi. The Wired Equivalent Privacy encryption is easily breakable and is rarely used. But, according to Computerworld, most routers built between 2000 and 2005 use it by default.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, 201 million households worldwide use WiFi networks. In a poll , the alliance found that among 1,054 Americans, 32% said they had tried to access a Wi-Fi network that wasn't theirs, according to the AP report.