Police Have Started Wardriving For Unsecured Networks In Queensland

Queensland cops have always been on the forefront of the digital age, whether its catching Wi-Fi freeloaders or detaining tech journalists for funsies. Now, residents of the country's north-eastern state will soon have their wireless networks prodded for holes by the Sunshine State's finest.

The initiative, called the "War Driving Project", will involve a "letterbox drop" containing helpful information of keeping your network protected, an accompanying website and patrols of police scanning suburbs and business districts for free-for-all Wi-Fi signals.

What's the motivation for the initiative? According to Brian Hay, a detective superintendent for the Queensland Police, they're not so much worried about people stealing bandwidth as they are about identity theft. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

"We have known of people whose Wi-Fi has been hacked and used to commit data theft, stalking and other serious crimes such as downloading child exploitation material," [Hay] said. "I would think it's very important to save mum and dad or grandma and grandpa from becoming suspects in a serious crime or possibly losing their life savings, having their identity stolen or losing the kids' inheritance."

That's a much bigger deal than losing a few gigabytes off one's download limit, definitely. Still, even with this noble aim in mind, is the act of wardriving itself an invasion of privacy? I'm sure the cops don't plan to jump onto unsecured networks and check out your share drives any time soon, but if I was super-paranoid, this would sound like a solid stepping stone to me.

[Queensland Police Service News, via SMH]

Image: Highway Patrol Images.



    I hope it doesn't come to police giving out citations or even more nasty shit as noted, like getting the power to snoop in peoples computers. It would be nice however if they could start cracking down on WiFi ID's that would curl the toes of a Bogan. My next door neighbor is using one that is definitely inappropriate for public viewing!

      What an absolute waste of taxpayer money. The police should be focused on real policing, not snooping on our internet connections. If you have an unsecure network, you probably get about 50 warnings a day from your anti virus. If you choose to ignore those warnings then you have no reason to complain when your information gets stolen. This country is becoming a police state. Don't hand your guns in people. You'll need them one day.

      Haha, we live above a pub and our wireless name is "Bob's a c**t" Because our modem is one of those iiNet BOB Modems and is actually a piece of shit. They constantly ask us to change it lol. But really its more of a conversation started for people downstairs. I really doubt drunks in a sports bar would get upset about the name.

    Brain Hay? I think that's the most fantastic name I've ever seen!

      Yes, that would be quite a name! Unfortunately, he's just a regular "Brian". All fixed now.

        Bob Cock might be a contender tho, especially given the 'position he is in'..

    If people are stupid enough to broadcast wi-fi into the street they deserve everything they get. Haven't to police got something better to do?


        How is he a tool?
        I think he has a very valid point.

          yep these tools are calling another a tool, because he raised a valid point in which they have probably fallen victim of in the past.. who's the real tool here?!

    Why not? If the area is being patrolled anyway and there's nothing going on, why not use the time to help educate people about wireless security. The patrolling officers wouldn't necessarily be the ones dropping off the info - all they'd have to do is identify a street or area which could be letter-dropped by the Neighbourhood Watch or similar group, or they could send the probationaries out to do a little 'community policing'.

    On the note of Wireless security, make sure that Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is disabled as it's been cracked.

    Lol they said the exact same thing in 2009. Three years later and they will actually do it this time round?

    So behind the 8 ball.

    How much money must our government have to play with superfluous preventative crime stopping like this?

    Locked your car? Your valuables are important. This is the sort of thing I see at the park now. I got a ticket a few weeks back because I didn't lock my car in the car park. Thanks for the courtesy - a women was probably being bashed in the face with a broom while they were doing that service for me.

    How long until I get a pamphlet from the PD reminding the importance of breathing or waking up in the morning or the importance of drinking enough water?

    Because you're a stupid monkey, monkey. Go. GReen. Stop. Red. Its safe to turn, but sit there and wait for the stupid monkey symbol to tell you when to go even though it defies all logic.

    When do we stop building foundations on the weak and brain dead?

      i like your thinking...i've often wondered the same thing. I think it's Amsterdam that have removed some of the traffic lights just so that people have to think for themselves and concentrate more... i like it. anyway...back on topic.

        Love your line of thought. It's very true. We are now almost completely overcome by rules established to control 0.01% of the population. Nowadays, Police are "too busy" to respond to break & enters, assualts, theft and so forth, yet they are hiding everywhere for a speeding car! I'm a small businessman and there are now 17,023 pages of legislation governing what we can do - every single facet of life is covered by "rules" and we have people threatening us every single week. Late last year, I decided that the stress of 'doing the right thing' was too overwhelming and I would accect that I'm breaking a rule or two at any given point in time. It was so liberating. Everyone should try it for a while!

      agreed. This is really stupid.

      So well said, I couldnt agree more!

      We live in a nanny state, that means we're covered by safety nets, but at the cost of some minor personal liberties. If it's not a trade you're willing to make, no-one's really forcing you to live here.

        As far as I know speaking opinions is still a minor personal liberty I have so in the meantime I'll take advantage. Thanks for the advice on where I choose to live - that was both relative and useful.

        Minor personal liberties? They currently capture all our internet activities and store it for 2 years. Any government department can access this without any warrant required. For example Australia Post is doing this!

          who are they? what 'internet activities' are they capturing? how are they 'capturing' these 'activities'? and where exactly do 'they' 'store' them? I mean this alone sounds ridiculous, they'd have to build the world's largest data centre just to 'capture' our activities.... LOGIC FAIL

    Haha, yeah... Here's a $70 fine to prevent someone stealing the $6 in your console.

    I think this is less about warning people of the dangers of having an open WiFi network and more about being a first step in stopping people from using the "it's an open network anyone could have done it" defence.

      Not to mention to stop people abusing the open network. I imagine I'd be pretty freaked if I found out someone had been downloading child porn through my unsecured network.

      Exactly. And what starts as a community helpy helpy service quickly turns into an enforcement, followed with fines, for not having the right internet filtering software installed on your modem.

      This is how they have always rolled. First they just nudge you off the cliff a little bit... see if you push back... then a bit more... then a bit more.. and before you know it, they've made a whole monolithic monetary empire out of saving you from falling off the cliffs edge.

        Yep I can see it getting to the point of fines for open networks . Open networks make it harder for police to charge individuals and being inherently lazy they want to end it. We are heading towards a police state.

    So I guess the next step in prevention will be to walk I my front door and take a look around..

    I wouldn't consider it a breach of privacy. The only people affected will be those that have created publicly available networks, either intentionally or by accident. Those that want it to be public can keep the network public, those that didn't realise have an opportunity to make it private.

    If they were breaking into protected networks that'd be another matter, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

      Yeah uh... if you were worried about privacy you'd probably want to know your wi-fi network wasn't secure given the huge privacy risks that entails...

    they could just ask the streetview people who has open wifi and save some time and money.

    once you accualy leave QLD and spend a long time away , you realise all the things that you cant do in this state, it is truly amazing ( takes about 6 months ) once you have this realisation you just leave,
    Queensland beauty-full place, wonder why god filled it up with dick-heads.

    Do they walk up and down the street checking if your doors and windows are locked by trying to open them? This has NOTHING to do with assuring the privacy or well being of the public. They're gathering data for potential future criminal cases. The point being, if you have an open network, and someone is using your open network to do wrong, they can only trace it to your network, so making sure the networks are locked, they can identify the perp. I say, get unlimited, set up one open and one hidden/secured network. Or, don't go to QLD (but then, they do have the best cops money can buy).

    Don't use technology if you don't know how to CORRECTLY use it.

    Not our fault that dumb people are using per-configured garbage wifi modems. Give them a 4 port hub for LAN.

    Also me living in a unit where there is plenty of wifis floating around isn't good either, some of us are Linux savvy ;)

    Go NSW!

    ...and don't forget to Taser the f***g biscuit thieves while they're at it...

    This is going to be become yet another revenue raising exercise along with jay walking and speed cameras. Why not concentrate on real crime? After all, it's not like they have to run it anything. If the criminal tries to escape they can just taser him till he dies.

    Damn! ...no more free wifi at maccas!

    What's the point? WEP, WPA. and WPA2 PSK are all crackable!

      I didnt think that WPA was currently cracked? Certainly not without a lot of hardware and time. Do you have an article, i would like to read up on that one.

    Wasn't it only recently that the police, government and Netizens everywhere were screaming about Google doing the same thing – and doing it accidentally? Funny how quickly things change.

      But you really do have to question why google were sending vehicles out taking pictures in every street AND scanning wifi networks, but not only scanning, COLLECTING data and wifi info. Why? What photographer goes out to do anything other than take pictures? Someone looking for something else, that's who. Protect your networks, it's not that bloody hard. Geez.

    This post has been approved by Skynet.

    If you were paranoid you wouldn't have an unsecured network!

    Australia, the 'nanny state'.

    It is all good telling people to secure their networks, but that won't stop the determined "hacker" from breaking the passkey and getting in. Where is the defence then? Sure you could be raided and have the cops find nothing on your machines, but still an open network would give you that initial defence. Besides, if you really were going to commit a crime on someone elses network, you would employ methods to hide your tracks, like MAC spoofing. If you can do that, it is easier to go into a Maccas and do your crime in the car park there.

      with a Quarterpounder and coke, yeah!~

    Whats next the condom police!

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