MORE than a fifth of wireless networks in Scotland are insecure – putting businesses and homeowners at risk from cybercriminals.
A unique survey of WiFi networks in Edinburgh found that 650 out of 3092 were either completely unprotected or easy to break in to.
And that means the owners of the networks are vulnerable to criminals using them to download child pornography, say police.
The situation was revealed by security expert James Lyne who checked a total of 3092 WiFi networks in the centre of the city on Thursday.
He found that 432 were left completely open. A further 228 had very basic protection, meaning they could be hacked within a couple of minutes.
Mr Lyne said: “These results show the true extent of the number of businesses and homes that are vulnerable and how easy it is for hackers to get into a network and potentially attack personal data.
“If you are a small business or a consumer and your network is wide open, anyone can connect to your network.”
The results will now be used as a sample for the current state of internet security across Scotland.
Detective Superintendent Steven Wilson, Head of eCrime for Police Scotland, said: “The results of really highlight why you should have proper security on your WiFi in place.
“You wouldn’t leave your car door unlocked, so you shouldn’t leave your network open to criminals either.
“Putting in place secure passwords so that people cannot pick up a signal and download illegal images or commit online criminal acts is one of the best things people can do to prevent criminal activity and to protect personal information.”
Mandy Haeburn-Little, Director of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, said the figures were “surprising and frustrating” and demonstrate why everyone needed to be more cyber resilient.
She said: “None of us, not one business, can be complacent. And at a time when Scotland’s Capital is hosting its much loved Festival and the city is full, it shows we all need to up our game.”
In 2009, Operation Algerbra was launched by the police and exposed what is believed to be one of the largest paedophile rings in Scotland.
One member of this gang used an innocent man’s internet connection and so that individual was placed under investigation until internet forensics could rule him out.