Wireless Internet access was a huge technological break through. It freed up the masses of Internet users from the tangle of wires that kept most chained to their desks. It also provided unlimited users access to the net through one modem. Yet, with access to wireless networks being mostly unrestricted could it pose a problem for individuals with wireless networks in their homes.
The term “piggybacking” has been causing worry among wireless network owners. Piggybacking essentially is when another user that is not allowed access to the network logs on and uses it. These unauthorized users can be your next door neighbor or some stranger in the car outside.
This only occurs if you have an open wireless connection, and because of this it has led many people to wise up and begin protecting their networks through passwords and firewalls. It may seem like protecting your wireless network from these “hackers” is justified. They are stealing your Internet connection, and the media is portraying the issue like a potential threat to people’s wireless networks.
It’s apparent how this could be seen as a problem by some, but is it really? How nice and convenient is it to access the Internet from anywhere you can receive an open network signal? But that is where Internet Service Providers have a problem. They don’t see unauthorized users accessing another individual’s network as simply sharing; they see it as a loss of profit. What if your neighbor just piggybacks off your connection permanently instead of reaching into his pocket to pay for a thirty-nine dollar a month subscription fee?
Others see piggybacking as a security threat to their computer’s data. Still others don’t even lack the technical know how to protect their wireless networks and leave them open for this reason. Users currently don’t have the ability nor the software included with their wireless routers to monitor who is accessing their networks and how much bandwidth they use. Such advancements would help to eliminate unauthorized users from permanently accessing individual’s networks and also protect their computers from other users. Ultimately it should come down to the user if they are willing to leave their wireless networks open to share with others.
As the Internet is one of the most prevalent ways that individuals consume media, the wireless revolution should be embraced. Piggybacking is not the evil idea that it has been portrayed as. More individuals than ever a looking for mobile Internet access and as we see an increase in the use of portable media devices from iPods to Blackberries to laptops and tablet PCs, open wireless networks and the ability to access these networks will only continue to benefit users.