Recent reports in a section of the media about possible WiFi thefts have made people in Muscat more vigilant, many of whom have taken precautions to switch off the WPS button on their routers which enables unauthorised users to sneak into private WiFi connections.
On the other hand, free WiFi connections have been provided in different parts of the city, including some cafes/restaurants, malls and hypermarkets as well as in some public parks and gardens. In fact, many people can be seen availing of free WiFi in parks every evening to avoid subcribing to pre-paid/postpaid internet packages.
Some internet users in the capital pointed out that they have, indeed, noticed people hanging around certain localities, especially near some commercial areas after office hours as well as certain residential localities, and seem to be always busy with their phones. Though this does not necessarily indicate unauthorised usage of private WiFi connections, it is important to take precautions at home, they said.
Dheemanth Arun, a student, said WiFi hacking seems to be very common near his residence. “Sometimes I feel the internet has slowed down rapidly. I see many people outside my building sitting for long hours with their phones and I suspect they might contribute to the slowness of my network. Sometimes, when I am working on important projects it’s really disturbing as I cannot access the net fast. We now have an encrypted password for it.”
Another resident of Muscat, V R Arun Kumar, said he, too, has face the problem of WiFi hacking and it seems to be on the rise recently. “The internet providers should come with a unique identity password to avoid such practices. Such hacking can stop if we create more awareness,” he said.
Others like Shwetha Sridhar, a homemaker, pointed out that without realising that they could be hacked they have often ended up buying extra data and incurred additional cost. “One day, we ended up losing our important credentials stored in our desktop after which we realised that we could be hacked. We took measures like firmware update, using encrypte password, periodic updating of the router and changing our WiFi network from ‘open’ status.”
Priyanka Gagwani, another student, however, said it has not faced any such problems but pointed out that wireless networks are always unsecured which puts everyone at risk. “Though the issue is serious, it won’t be a problem as long as a hacker isn’t spying on data,” she asserted.