The Queensland Police plans to conduct a 'wardriving' mission around select Queensland towns in an effort to educate its citizens to secure their wireless networks.
'Wardriving' refers to the technique of searching for unsecured wireless networks by driving the streets armed simply with a laptop or smartphone seeking network connections.
Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the Queensland Police, who today was honoured by security vendor McAfee with an "International Cybercrime Fighter Award", told the audience at McAfee's Strategic Summit in Sydney that his unit is "about to undertake a wardriving program, in which we drive through areas of Queensland trying to identify unsecured networks".
When unsecured networks are found, the Queensland Police will pay a friendly visit to the household or small business, informing them of the risks they are exposing themselves to.
"It is a simple campaign, much like past police campaigns in which officers walk around railway station checking cars have been locked. If you leave your car unlocked, you come back and find a note from the Police warning you of the dangers involved with leaving your car unsecured," Hay told iTnews.
"We know unsecured networks are a problem," Hay said. "We know the crooks are out there driving around trying to identify these networks. We can't just sit back and not address the issue.
"What we need to do is put it on the agenda. We are pretty sure this is a big problem, so let's test the waters - let's scan the environment. And let's tell people, 'Excuse me, this could happen to you and your family and this is how you can rectify it'."
Hay said the Queensland Police won't require many resources to make the exercise a success.
"We pick out small geographic locations, scan the environment and promote it through the media - highlighting the significance of problem and how to take corrective steps," he said.
Hay said the Police would ideally hope to return to surveyed areas within a month to "see if they've fixed the problem."
He said Queensland Police had discussed the potential to conduct and promote the exercise on conjunction with unnamed corporate partners, but "with or without them, I can assure you the Queensland Police is going to do this. I'll make sure it gets off the ground."
Home and small business users are advised to enable the security features on their home broadband routers, and to replace the default password with a longer one that includes mixed characters.