Case highlights rising WiFi privacy issues

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Using an unsecure WiFi router means anyone can use your Internet – even for illegal activities – that will eventually come back to haunt you.

A case in Buffalo, NY highlights that very concern, but it is not the first. Cases where open personal WiFi networks have not been password protected and anyone, a neighbor, a passing stranger or someone with sinister plans can connect and download whatever they want. Typically cases involve child pornography.

"We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night," lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted to AP what Federal agents had said to his Buffalo, NY client.

"No, I didn't," the client insisted. "Somebody else could have but I didn't do anything like that."

"You're a creep … just admit it," federal agents allegedly responded.

A recent case in Syracuse, NY saw a man arrested after authorities followed an electronic trail to his router. Later his neighbor pleaded guilty.

In Sarasota, FL one man was arrested for a similar crime, only to have it later be learned that a man on a boat in the harbor outside his building has tapped into this unsecured router.

The message: Secure your WiFi router with a password. This is a lesson one Buffalo homeowner neglected to learn.

For days federal authorities poured over his and his families electronic divides only to find no sign over child pornography and admit the homeowner was telling the truth. His WiFi router has been accessed by someone else. Similar to the Syracuse case, a neighbor was arrested shortly after and is set to appear in federal courts in the near future.

The biggest issue is, whether guilty or innocent, when federal authorities come knowing at your door and accuse you of being a pedophile or child pornographer, the words stick. You are treated as a suspect and as if you are guilty before trial.

The lesson to be learned is to always secure your wireless router.