"Piggybacking" school wi-fi theft - pair cautioned in Maidstone!
In this weeks Kent Messenger (Maidstone Edition) there is a story about wi-fi bandwidth theft from a school ... "Piggy Backing", more formally known as 'dishonestly obtaining an electronic communication service" is an increasing problem, especially as in practice free hotspots in towns and cities are not easy to distinguish from those that are private. The truth is though, that if you park yourself outside of a school or private house long into the evening to use their Internet, you probably know you are open to challenge.
In this case a couple parked themselves outside of Oakwood Park Grammar School in Maidstone with a laptop for three consecutive nights, and were spotted by suspicious locals. They were arrested and after admitting the offence, were cautioned.
The couple were apparently able to access the Internet, and it highlights the importance of schools being vigilant in protecting their networks. If outsiders can access the Internet from the school wireless, then potentially they can also access other parts of the school network. Where not set up with appropriate security, this potentially exposes systems to intrusion and attack. A good deal of personal data is stored on a school network. I was once told that having an insecure wireless network is like putting all of your data sockets on the outside of the building!
Security measures must be in place for school wireless networks:
- Switch on the encryption (WEP or WPA), or authenticate each computer using their MAC address (they will know what this means).
- Have an effective policy for regular changing of user passwords.
- Remove old users immediately staff or pupils leave.