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German Court Enforces WiFi Security

While some online users may think that choosing an unsecured WiFi network at a coffee shop or friend’s apartment is a harmless endeavor, there are, in fact, many dangers linked to this kind of risky behavior. An unsecured WiFi network provides an all-too-easy-to-access gateway for cybercriminal activity – from illegal file downloading to spreading malware. In response to such cyberattacks, one country is cracking down on the source of the problem.

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice recently ruled that all citizens must secure their wireless internet connections; failure to do so could cost violators up to 100 Euros (approximately $126). The court decision is the result of a case in which a musician sued an online user who failed to secure his WiFi connection. The unsecured network resulted in the illegal downloading of the musician’s work. Even though the accused user proved that he was on vacation when the illegal file sharing occurred, the court ruled that all internet users are responsible for securing their wireless connections:

“Private users are obligated to check whether their wireless connection is adequately secured to the danger of unauthorized third parties abusing it to commit copyright violation,” the court said.

The decision by the German court is interesting because it requires internet users to secure their WiFi connections with passwords, but it does not hold them responsible for any crimes committed as a result of an unsecured network. Despite objections, the new law should have some positive effects, including reducing the amount of illegal file sharing as well as other harmful practices by cybercrooks, such as the distribution of malware. Still, the ruling begs the question – does a government have the right to demand that online users engage in certain internet security practices?

With the rate of cybercrime on the rise across the globe, attempts to reduce such infractions are sure to occur more frequently. What do you think about the German court’s ruling? Should other countries take similar steps in the quest for cybersecurity?

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