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Survey Claims Majority of Brits Won’t Share WiFi with Neighbours

Tuesday, Aug 15th, 2023 (2:43 pm) - Score 3,144
wifi uk internet security

A new survey of over 1,000 UK people, which was conducted by ExpressVPN, has found that 59% of respondents do not trust their neighbours with access to their home broadband ISP network via Wi-Fi and seemingly for good reasons – linked to privacy and security. But we assume this means 41% would still trust their neighbours.

The survey found that 14% of respondents claim to have caught a friend, family member or neighbour attempting to use their home WiFi network to access something ‘dodgy’ (e.g. a pornography site or the dark web). Some 7% of related incidents even resulted in a dispute or confrontation. The survey noted that, overall, 16% admitted that they too had attempted to use someone else’s private WiFi network.

The report suggests, albeit without much substantiation, that such incidents could be on the rise due to recent price hikes in broadband connectivity, with dodgy neighbours apparently now being more inclined to borrow somebody else’s WiFi in order to save money. The survey claims that 13% of Brits have caught a neighbour trying to connect to their WiFi without permission, although such things could also be accidental. You’d have to be monitoring the network quite closely to spot this.

Finally, the survey found 74% have said that they are concerned about securing their Wi-Fi network, while 31% admit to having saved the passwords for private Wi-Fi networks so they can connect again easily, and 24% think that their online safety has been compromised by using someone else’s Wi-Fi.

More Survey Results

➤ 67% of Brits do not take any measures to protect their home network connection, but this could be partly due to a lack of understanding of the technology (see below).

➤ 66% are unfamiliar with Wi-Fi encryption protocols, like WEP, WPA2 and WP3, and 13% admitted that they find VPNs and DNS too complicated.

➤ 4% revealed that they have changed the name of their Wi-Fi network to discourage unauthorised access.

➤ 11% admitted that they had changed their Wi-Fi name because they found it funny, or it reflected their sense of humour.

➤ 17% said they would be more likely to try and join a Wi-Fi network if it had a humorous name.

Hopefully it goes without saying that a VPN provider, like ExpressVPN, has a clear vested interest in the outcome of such a survey. On top of that, they don’t provide any information on how the study itself was actually conducted or by whom (i.e. take it with a big pinch of salt).

At the end of the day, it’s wise never to share your WiFi with neighbours (especially if they have children) as you could end up being responsible for something they do, which may break the law. In any case most neighbours would be connecting to a particularly weak signal, thus the experience is likely to be a poor one, but if you really do want to do it then many routers do enable you to setup a ‘Guest’ network, which may limit their access a bit.

However, it’s always wise to use a strong password, enable WPA3 encryption (if your device supports it) and, where possibly, try to only use the 5GHz or 6GHz bands for connectivity as related signals won’t travel as far and are thus more tedious for hackers to harness. Finally, keep your router up-to-date with the latest software (firmware), although if your kit came from an ISP then they’ll probably do that automatically.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
19 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Anthony says:

    “Finally, keep your router up-to-date with the latest software (firmware)”…My experience unless you use OpenWRT. Expect two updates on any router. Even those from the big players and then that is it for you. OpenWRT should be the standard router operating system like Windows is for PCs.

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      In my experience BT are pretty good at keeping their hubs up to date. The smart hub 2 for instance was last updated on the 23rd June and that was about the 7th update in the last 2 years.

    2. Avatar photo Mark says:

      Speak for yourself, my router notifies me of an update on a monthly basis and has done for several years!

    3. Avatar photo Anthony says:

      “Speak for yourself, my router notifies me of an update on a monthly basis and has done for several years!”

      You could have said what make it is? My experience with Asus, TPLink, Dlink and Netgear is the above.

    4. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

      @Anthony

      The model can also be a factor, I have two Asus routers, one is an RT-AC68U (bought 2014) which as of posting still receives sporadic updates, most recently May 2023, whilst they dropped my RT-AC56U (also bought 2014) back in 2019.

      My parents still use the 68u whilst I’ve switch to an old thin client and pfSense.

  2. Avatar photo Michael V says:

    So many people I know haven’t or won’t just change the network name or password.
    It’s people like us who have an understanding that need to have these conversations with them, to help make the networks secure. Some ISPs do give a basic guide on how to do this.

    I’ve shared my network with my neighbour when her line had been cut. I’ve given her one of the WiFi extenders for a few days. I think it’s based on how well you know your neighbour though. Most hubs now allow a visitor network that’s separate, one can always change the password or switch the visitor network off.

    1. Avatar photo Sunil Sood says:

      @Michael V

      I’m not sure there is actually much need to change the network name or password.

      Unlike the old days, when routers tended to all use the same default passwords, those provided by ISPs are now unique to each unit

  3. Avatar photo anon says:

    Not a chance would I take the risk of letting anyone share my WiFi. As I understand it, you would be legally responsible for everything they did on your connection. Not to mention if the ISP were somehow (unlikely) to find out, they’ve probably got a clause somewhere in their giant T&Cs that nobody reads which says they can cut you off for sharing.

    Not worth the risk imho.

    1. Avatar photo Anon 2 says:

      No, you’re not responsible or liable for any wrongful actions unless you knew about them beforehand and thus facilitated them.

      However, if the authorities traced dodgy activity to your connection, then they wouldn’t start off with a polite chat, they’d breeze in and issue you a caution or even arrest you, and in either event seize all IT, phones, and digital kit on your premises for a thorough inspection by their digital forensics team. Even if it was your neighbour, you’d not see your kit for weeks. And the entire neighbourhood would be whispering about the sort of crimes you must have committed to have your computers seized.

  4. Avatar photo Nope says:

    I once had a neighbour (who I’d never spoke too) come to my front door and offer to pay me £10 a month to use my WiFi as he didn’t use the internet enough to warrant getting his own. Eventually found out that he was arrested a few years back for grooming children!!

    1. Avatar photo 4chAnon says:

      Sounds like he wasn’t able to get his own, which is why he wasn’t using it much!

  5. Avatar photo Neil says:

    I share our Internet connection with our neighbours, using some UniFi point to point kit. Considering that we just roughly pointed it at each other’s end, rather than doing any proper alignment, it works well.

    They’re on their own VLAN, with their own non-RFC1918 addressing, and so while that doesn’t entirely remove the risk of someone banging our door down instead of theirs, I am comfortable with the residual risk.

    (There’s no vicarious liability for someone else’s actions, or a principle of “paying subscriber liability”, but the paying subscriber is likely to be the first point of contact after the ISP.)

    1. Avatar photo Iain says:

      VLANs I understand. But non private IP addresses? Do you have your own ASN, or do I misunderstand?

  6. Avatar photo MilesT says:

    Didn’t BT use to supply routers that shared WiFi to their Cloud WiFi customers by default (“FON”)? Separate SSID and all that. Clearly wasn’t that popular or useful especially since plenty of options for free WiFI these days and cost of mobile data has reduced dramatically.

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      They still do. All BT hubs create a public WiFi hotspot though it’s kept separate from your internal lan. All BT broadband customers have free access to bt public wifi

    2. Avatar photo MilesT says:

      Which makes the survey a bit of a nonsense, which of course we probably suspected anyway

  7. Avatar photo Muckspreader says:

    Just share the WiFi Guest account once activated. Most people I ask, know nothing about the Guest account their router usually has. Let alone how to access the management page…
    I could go on…

  8. Avatar photo DaveP says:

    Friends run a B&B and shared their WiFi password. I showed them quick way to generate and print a QR code (Google) thus not giving the password. Ok probable not robust but it’s dead easy and using the ‘guest’ network changing frequently is less vulnerable.

    1. Avatar photo No One says:

      That QR code contains the password though, right? If so, then they’re still sharing the password.

      Just install an app that reads QR codes and you’ll get the information (the password, in this case) in plain text.

Comments are closed

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