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Home » Hacking News » Australian broadband hijackers

Australian broadband hijackers

by Nikola Strahija on June 1st, 2005 Analyst firm IDC said more than 80,000 homes had wireless computer networks in Australia at the end of last year. But many home users are not taking even the most basic precautions to secure their new networks against unwelcome intruders.

By the end of this year, the number should more than double to 180,000 households and increase 10-fold to over 870,000 households by 2009.

Drive through any affluent suburb and there is a ready supply of wireless networks that anyone can log on to, claims wireless systems engineer Duane Groth.

Groth said the Windows XP software on many new laptops would automatically seek and attempt to connect to any wireless network it found. Older systems could use programs such as NetStumbler, which was readily available on the Internet. No specific laws cover intrusion into wireless systems, but an Australian Federal Police spokeswoman said prosecutions might be possible under interception provisions of the Telecommunications Act, or the Serious Computer Offences provisions of the Criminal Code.

One user said he had noticed a big spike in the amount of data being downloaded on his broadband internet account. -The downloads were during working hours when I am not at home and the computer is switched off," he said. "I suspect it's probably a neighbour.
He said the wireless link was not secured at first because he thought the possibility of someone leeching off him was pretty low, but he quickly changed his mind. Luckily, the downloads did run up a big bill, falling short of the account's monthly limit.

If a broadband connection is hijacked, the cost can quickly mount. Under a capped-price broadband plan, hacking may go unnoticed. But if a plan charges extra once a data limit has been reached, a neighbour downloading 100 MP3 songs could easily add $50 to a $30 or $40 per month service.

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