WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Luzerne County man is charged with downloading child pornography while using his neighbor’s Wi-Fi account.
Now law enforcement is issuing an alert regarding Wi-Fi security. Computer crime experts tell Eyewitness News it is a growing problem and concern, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
With many people home working, learning, or just passing the time, the bad guys know they have lots of potential targets. Whose guard may be down? Investigators say Eric Williams from Nescopeck downloaded 100 images of child porn onto his computer.
“During the investigation, we found that Mr. Williams was using his neighbor’s Wi-Fi which is really something that’s becoming more common nowadays that people are sharing Wi-Fi,” said Luzerne County Detective Chaz Balogh.
Balogh is a computer crimes expert. He says the Williams case is an example of what they are seeing more often these days.
“Certainly you really shouldn’t share your Wi-Fi with anyone other than your family for the simple reason of you don’t know. Your neighbor could be using it and engaging in illegal activity as Mr. Williams did in this case,” Balogh said.
And Balogh says they are seeing an increasing number of Wi-Fi accounts being hacked into. His advice?
“Just have a very strong password on your Wi-Fi and we try to tell people don’t make it like your kid’s names, animal’s names, something different including numbers, symbols. You should be safe just by doing that,” Balogh said.
Detectives say the unauthorized use of Wi-Fi has complicated computer crime investigations.
“It makes us go through a couple of more steps. Obviously, we track the download back to the internet service provider. We serve court papers on them. This obviously came back to the neighbor. We had to do a little bit of leg work to eliminate the neighbor as a suspect,” said Detective Richard Naprava with the West Hazleton Police and NEPA Computer Crimes Task Force.
Balogh says computer crimes investigated from across the region and the state tell him they too are seeing a big increase in crimes related to unauthorized Wi-Fi use.
Balogh also advises parents to keep an extra close eye on children who may have access to the internet.