The Dangers of Sharing Your Internet
SHARING YOUR WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS WITH A NEIGHBOR MIGHT SEEM LIKE A FRIENDLY THING TO DO, BUT BE AWARE THAT YOU ARE POTENTIALLY PUTTING YOUR OWN COMPUTERS AT RISK.
A typical home network might have the following elements,
- Wireless router: built-in wireless or using an external Wi-Fi access point is the same scenario, it gives you access to the internet and the wireless clients access to the internal (home) and external (internet) networks.
- A multitude of wireless devices, such as laptops, iPods, Tablets, smartphones, iPhones, etc.
- Network printers, so you can print from any device in your home network
- Network attached storage, where you may save your family photos and videos
- Home theatre PC from where you might display pictures, or movies onto your TV
- Smart TV
There might be a misunderstanding that the Wi-Fi is encrypted and thus my neighbor can’t see me, but that is false. Wi-Fi encryption only allows those who don’t have your Wi-Fi password to not see what you are connecting to on your network or in the internet. Once a user is connected to your network (be it wired or wireless, since they are essentially the same) there are some risks that you have accepted,
- Anything that you are sharing on your network, is now being shared to them too. Airplay, or screensharing displays, shared folders, printers, IP cameras ... they can see and modify those too, just like you can from your smartphone.
- If your neighbor’s device is infected with malware or viruses, it can propagate to your machines. Are you strict on the security aspects of their devices as you are with yours? Do they have a proper antivirus? Antimalware? Are their devices running older firmware and thus are more prone to attacks? What are they downloading and from where?
- Small risk that they may maliciously make changes to the router settings and be able to monitor and see all your internet traffic. Do you want them knowing everything that you do online? Do they make changes to the router’s firewall to block certain websites or content for you?
- You become responsible for all their usage. If your neighbor starts downloading illegal material, or performing illegal activity online that gets traced back to your internet connection, that will leave you liable for all that traffic.
- It will slow your own connection down. Once you share your Wi-Fi password, they may extend that courtesy and start using it on their 4K HD TV, which will eat up a lot of bandwidth, or share it with their own friends and family, and now half the block is sharing your internet connection.
You don’t let just anyone into your home ... why is your home network different?