BUNDABERG wireless internet users have been urged to properly secure their home networks after a man was charged for allegedly stealing wi-fi data last week.
Bundaberg Criminal Investigation Branch Detective Senior Sergeant Joe Hildred said the 41-year-old man was charged on Croft St, Bargara, on Friday after allegedly tapping into private but unsecured wi-fi systems using his smartphone.
Det Snr Sgt Hildred said the man's phone was seized and he would appear in court on June 22.
"People should have passwords on their internet," he said.
"It's becoming more of a problem - it's not just a local issue, but worldwide."
Micro Computers Bundaberg head technician Giovanni Spinella said these days, because most people used a lot more devices, such as laptops, iPads and smartphones, they usually opted for a wireless connection.
"Often when they are setting up they are missing the steps of securing the network," he said.
"When you set up a network, not all devices ask to set up the security on the network."
Mr Spinella said securing networks was a step that could be easily missed during home installation.
"Kids these days take over the role of being the technician over their mums or dads," Mr Spinella said.
Without password protection, Mr Spinella said people could access unsecured networks "quite easily".
"They can be at the front of your house, or even a couple of metres away," he said.
"They can connect to the unsecured network straight away.
"Whereas when it is secure, it will prompt them for the password."
Mr Spinella said wi-fi hacking could go relatively unnoticed until a severe drop in download speeds was noticed, or the download allowance was used up.
"Most of the people who are stealing your internet are doing it for a purpose," he said.
The computer technician also warned web users to be wary of "free" wi-fi facilities that ran off a public network.
"Public networks are the most unsecured for people to get in and have a look at your computer while you are connected," he said.
"You are connected to a mainframe that can be accessed.
"Public networks are great because they are free but they're not safe."
- Always use the strongest wireless encryption your modem or router has.
- Always use the strongest possible network password.