War Driving Project to help prevent identity theft

National Consumer Fraud Week is now underway and Queensland Police are launching a new project aimed at encouraging the public to protect their identity and personal information online.

The State Crime Operations Command’s Fraud and Corporate Crime Group have announced the rollout of the ‘War Driving Project’, which will focus on prompting the community to check their wireless internet connection and ensure it’s secure.

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay said police have identified a large number of homes and businesses within the greater Brisbane area with wireless connections that are not secure or have limited protection. These people may as well put their bank account details, passwords and personal details on a billboard on the side of the highway.

“Unprotected or unsecured wireless networks are easy to infiltrate and hack. Criminals can then either take over the connection and commit fraud online or steal the personal details of the owner. This is definitely the next step in identity fraud.”

The War Driving Project involves police conducting proactive patrols of residential and commercial areas to identify unprotected connections. Police will follow this up with a letterbox drop in the targeted area with information on how to effectively secure your connection.

“Officers from the Hi Tech Crime Investigation Unit will patrol the Brisbane area (residential and commercial), but we are encouraging the public to not sit back and wait for this contact. Check your connection tonight and make sure it is protected,” Detective Superintendent Hay said.

The biggest concern for police is ‘open’ wireless connections (access points). An open or unprotected connection or point allows anyone to use your internet, monitor your activity, or steal your identity information. Another concern for police is access points that use ‘WEP’ (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption as their sole means of security. This is an older form of security or encryption and offers a limited protection.

“Having WEP encryption is like using a closed screen door as your sole means of security at home. The WPA or WPA2 security encryption is certainly what we would recommend as it offers a high degree of protection,” Detective Superintendent Hay said.

For more information on the War Driving Project or tips on how to secure your connection, visit the Queensland Police Service website http://www.police.qld.gov.au/safewifi

Anyone with information which could assist police with their investigations should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

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