In late July a series of bomb blasts rocked the city of Ahmedabad in India, killing scores of people. Emails were sent to TV stations five minutes before the first blasts claiming to come from a group called Indian Mujahideen (IM) said that it was responsible for the imminent attacks, and warned of more to come.
As I blogged afterwards, Kenneth Haywood, a US expat living in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), was interrogated by anti-terror investigators after it was determined that the IP address used for sending the emails pointed towards him.
It was discovered, however, that Haywood’s wi-fi access was not properly secured, meaning that anybody in the vicinity, could steal his internet internet connection and send a message.
Mumbai police have now arrested a number of people in connection with the emails, including 31-year-old Mohammed Asghar Mansoor Peerbhoy, a Yahoo India software engineer. According to the Times of India, Peerbhoy is said to have told police that he and his cohorts drove around Mumbai on a number of occasions hunting for strong unsecured wi-fi signals (a technique known as ‘wardriving’).
The story of Peerbhoy’s arrest, and the allegation that he was a key player in the IM’s “media cell” staffed with well-educated white-collar software engineers, has created many headlines across the country in the last week, and claims have surfaced that Indian Mujahideen paid for members to attend a three day network security course in Hyderabad.
While investigations continue in India, there is lesson that all internet users can learn right now in the wake of the bombings. This case may be unusual, but it underlines the critical importance of securing your wi-fi connection.
It’s well documented that criminals can send pornographic spam via your unprotected wi-fi router, or download illegal or pirated content. But they could also exploit your unsecured wireless internet access to disguise their involvement in even more serious criminal acts. Everyone needs to make sure that their wi-fi connection cannot be used by strangers.