In what’s being billed as a world first, police in the northern Australian state of Queensland have decided to clamp down on the free flowing crime hose that is unsecured WiFi networks. In between bouts of IMing, Warcraft levelling and torrenting, police will be cruising the suburbs on the hunt for open WiFi routers to warn their owners of the dangers of using their PCs on an unsecured network.
“All unsecured WiFi networks out there are open for exploitation by the crooks and the average mum and dad don’t understand the vulnerabilities,” Detective Superintendent Hay said in a phone interview.
I’m not one to begrudge service-based policing and protecting people who don’t really understand about WiFi encryption is a great idea … but. In my mind, legislating that all WiFi routers sold within Australia must have encryption switched on by default would be far more effective than police crawling the streets with NetStumbler.
We don’t have the option of encryption-optional car remote lockers or garage door openers because it’s a stupid idea. Treat WiFi the same way. If people-in-the-know want to run their WiFi network unencrypted then they should make the decision knowing the risks, not because it’s the default setting. Sure it’ll be a little more complicated at first, but nothing fixes complexity like potential sales. Look at what iPhones did for ridiculously complicated mobile phone interfaces?
The Queensland Police fraud squad says it will be the first police force in the world to go on “wardriving” missions to warn homes and businesses if their wireless networks are not secure. [Story from the SMH, photo from Flickr]