4.3 million Brits admit ‘hacking’ their neighbours’ Wi-Fi

  • As many as 2.7 million Brits have hacked their neighbours’ Wi-Fi after their own internet went down, with a further 1.6 million doing so after they’d been given access on a previous occasion
  • A fifth of perpetrators will spend over 2 hours guessing passwords, attempting combinations of pet (28 per cent) and child (24 per cent) names
  • Researchers also found the average time spent ‘piggybacking’ neighbours’ internet was a huge 52 days, with one in 20 remaining logged on for over a year
  • Data comes as study by Konnect reveals the extreme lengths Britons go to for internet access, including one person who confessed they “travelled 60 miles to my ex’s to log on”, while another sat in a McDonald’s to download TV shows

New research has today revealed 4.3 million Brits are guilty of ‘hacking’ their neighbours Wi-Fi when their own internet has gone down, or even in a bid to avoid paying for their own internet connection.

A total of 1.6 million of those ‘piggybacking’ their neighbours’ Wi-Fi had held onto passwords after getting permission on a previous occasion.

But 2.7 million hacked their way in by guessing passwords, with combinations so simple that a third (33 per cent) cracked the code within half an hour.

A fifth (18 per cent) of perpetrators spent over 2 hours – and in some cases weeks (5 per cent) – trying various password combinations.

The Wi-Fi owner’s name (30 per cent), pet names (28 per cent) and children’s names (24 per cent) were the most likely starting guesses for would-be hackers.

The study by satellite broadband provider, Konnect, showed only 25 per cent of Britons are fully confident their neighbours have never piggybacked their internet.

Once accessed, time spent ‘piggybacking’ neighbours’ internet stands at a huge 52 days on average, with one in 20 even admitting they’ve been connected for over a year.

Having annoying, unreliable connections in their own homes was given as the justification for hacking neighbours’ Wi-Fi by half (55 per cent), but one in 10 (10 per cent) say it was because they ‘needed’ to do some online shopping.

One in 20 (7 per cent) even admitted it was so they could continue online dating.

Perhaps also a motivation is the fact the average Briton can only bear to be disconnected from the internet for just 3 hours 35 minutes before starting to feel anxious.

And hacking neighbours’ connections isn’t the only way Brits go to extremes to get online, with researchers finding multiple examples of people forced to book hotel rooms, ride Wi-Fi enabled busses and even interrupting holidays to get online.

Among the most extreme case uncovered by researchers were:

  • “After my phone broke whilst I was on holiday, I insisted upon being driven to the closest city to buy a new phone so that I could connect to the internet during the rest of my holiday”
  • “I’ve gone to my local supermarket to connect to Wi-Fi”
  • “I travelled 30 miles to my office in order to gain a Wi-Fi connection I knew was reliable”
  • “I travelled 60 miles to my ex’s”
  • “I went to a McDonald’s to download TV shows”
  • “One time when my internet went down, I travelled almost 2 hours to my parents. I stayed with them for 3 days until my connection was restored”
  • I sat outside an ex-boyfriend’s house to use my laptop”
  • “Went to the local community centre where a yoga class was on and sat at the back and connected to the council’s internet”

James Soames, Global Marketing Director from Konnect, said: “In 2022 most people expect to have a reliable internet connection but as this research shows, that is not the case for millions of households across the UK.

“Having a connection to the internet plays such a vital role in people’s ability to get on with their lives, that we’re seeing some extreme measures taken to get online – such as hacking into your neighbour’s Wi-Fi or travelling over 60 miles.  

“The good news is that with satellite broadband, you can get an internet connection even in places where fibre is not an option.”

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