Wi-Fi theft

Dear Editor,

Nowadays our society lives and breathes for Wi-Fi. We ask for Wi-Fi passwords in stores and at restaurants and when we go to a friend’s house. I know this because I’m a millennial guilty of obsessively connecting to Wi-Fi whenever I get the chance.

But what happens when there are risks involved in this Wi-Fi sharing? Turns out sharing your Wi-Fi has multiple consequences regarding network privacy, virus and malware protection, legal issues and performance decline.

Sharing your Wi-Fi password with a friend or neighbor essentially gives them complete access to your home network.

Whoever holds the Wi-Fi password has the encryption password to your system, meaning your network is no longer protected from that individual. They can even gain access to your personal files. This new access can also make it easier for people to hack into your devices.

Even if the person borrowing your Wi-Fi is trustworthy, if they become infected with a virus or malware, it has the potential to affect your own machines. The more people you share your password with, the larger this risk becomes.

Then comes the legal issues. First, Wi-Fi related issues can be taken very seriously. Using another person’s Wi-Fi without their consent (referred to as piggybacking) is illegal in many states according to state and federal laws.

Piggybacking is a Class A misdemeanor in New York, and in Florida, a defendant faced felony charges for piggybacking. Make sure you have owner’s consent before hooking up to someone’s Wi-Fi.

The majority of Wi-Fi companies prohibit the sharing of Wi-Fi with non-paying users.

Also, sharing Wi-Fi with multiple users makes it slower. I hope you don’t mind a little buffering during your Netflix time, because the more you share, the slower it’ll be.

Wireless routers split its bandwidth between all users, which causes a decline in performance and speeds. So limit your usage. I never thought twice about sharing Wi-Fi, but it seems that it is a good idea to take a step back before doling out the password.

A great solution is to create a guest Wi-Fi network with a separate password to give to all guests. This will keep your home network separate and se- cure and you don’t have to feel guilty when you deny your best friend access to your internet.


Casey Carbone

Millennial, UVM Senior, Burlington Telecom Intern