Monday, February 12, 2007

Criminals exploit Wi-Fi hotspots

The Washington Post has a recent article discussing how Wi-Fi hotspots are becoming a criminal's best friend.
"If a suspect is going from coffee shop to coffee shop and using free signals to commit crimes, the police probably aren't going to catch him. That's the reality." [says Todd Shipley of the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics].

Open wireless signals are akin to leaving your front door wide open all day -- and returning home to find that someone has stolen your belongings and left a mess that needs cleaning.

One way to combat it is for people to secure their wireless networks by making them password-protected. But, authorities said, businesses and cities that offer free connections need some way to track the users, such as filtering measures that could scan to see who is accessing the network. |WaPo|
The Washington Post article focuses on the risks created by child molesters and child pornography and the challenges this presents to law enforcement.
These days, the Internet is as indispensable to an officer's arsenal as his gun and handcuffs. Indeed, a growing number of officers are being assigned to patrol cyberspace.

Across the nation, 46 multi-jurisdictional Internet Crimes Against Children task forces have been created to carry out online sting operations aimed at ensnaring sex offenders because a man tapping away on a computer in Rockville might very well be soliciting a child in California. Every week, federal and local authorities cast their nets.

And although most sex crimes against underage boys and girls involve victims and suspects who know each other, an increasing number involve online interactions between strangers. Online solicitations -- in which pedophiles cultivate relationships with children and then arrange to meet them in public places -- are becoming more common, federal authorities said.|WaPo|
People need to become more sophisticated about securing their computers and their Internet connections. The Mail & Guardian Online has a series of security suggestions here.

Tal Zarsky has also written an interesting law review article Thinking Outside the Box: Considering Transparency, Anonymity, and Pseudonymity as Overall Solutions to the Problems of Information Privacy in the Internet Society on using psuedonyms (rather than a truly anonymous system) to track people down when they commit crimes, but until there is some evidence of malfeasance, the psuedonym protects one's identity.

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