Hyperoptic has looked into the borrowing or stealing (which is what it is when you don't have permission) a neighbours Wi-Fi network with a survey and the answers have implications in terms of security and really highlight that leaving hardware on default passwords or with easy to guess passwords is not a wise idea.
"It's a shock to discover so many people admitting to 'borrowing' their neighbours' broadband. ‘Stealing' other people's WiFi cannot be condoned and is highly likely to have a detrimental effect on the connection your neighbours are receiving - and paying for.
Many customers of standard broadband already battle with a slow and unreliable service that doesn't allow everyone in the home to make the most of the internet at the same time, let alone carry unwanted surfers sneaking on to the network.
Hacking your neighbours’ WiFi isn’t just wrong, it simply won’t cut it. As life becomes increasingly digitised, the need for broadband reliability – and for speed – cannot be ignored. Hyperoptic gives all residents in a property the chance to enjoy uninterrupted gigabit speeds simultaneously, no ‘borrowing’ necessary, and ensures they can do so long term; future-proofing their homes to be compatible with the internet technologies yet to come."Dana Tobak, Managing Director of Hyperoptic
The survey which questioned a representative sample of 2,000 adults in Britain found that successful 'borrowing' of Wi-Fi varied by region, with London at 53%, Wales at 40%, Scotland 20% and Northern Ireland 27%. London may be at the top simply because of the population density, thus the ability to see the maximum number of Wi-Fi networks.
What we thought most interesting was the variation based on age, 18% of 18-24 year olds successfully guessed a Wi-Fi password, 42% of 25-34 year olds, 43% of 35-44 year olds, 35% of 45-54 year olds and 10% in the 55+ bracket. Finding out more why the difference between young adults and the other age ranges may be revealing, maybe young people are better at managing their online security thus making it harder for friends to guess access credentials, or they just know less about their neighbours so guessing silly passwords like the pets name is harder.
For those who may be unsettled by this apparent ease that people can borrow your Wi-Fi, ensure you are using WPA2 based encryption and that WPS is turned off on your (WPS is the handy push button method to link devices over Wi-Fi but it has vulnerabilities) and most importantly use a strong password. Something everyone should do is also run a software firewall on their various devices, which can protect you from others on your LAN.
With Christmas rapidly approaching a good tip instead of sharing your main Wi-Fi network key, is to use a wireless router or access point that allows you to create guest networks so that when you have friends staying over Christmas you can give them Internet access but keep your local network of devices separate.