Part of the Network security glossary:

Piggybacking, in a wireless communications context, is the unauthorized access of a wireless LAN.  Piggybacking is sometimes referred to as "Wi-Fi squatting." 

The usual purpose of piggybacking is simply to gain free network access rather than any malicious intent, but it can slow down data transfer for legitimate users of the network. Furthermore, a network that is vulnerable to piggybacking for network access is equally vulnerable when the purpose is data theft, dissemination of viruses, or some other illicit activity. 

It's quite simple to access an unsecured wireless network: All you have to do is get into the range of a Wi-Fi hotspot's signal and select your chosen network from the options presented. However, unauthorized network access, even to free Wi-Fi, may be illegal. People have been fined for accessing hot spots from outside businesses, such as coffee shops, that provide free Wi-Fi for customers' use. 

To protect your network from piggybacking, ensure that encryption is enabled for your router. Use Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) if that's your only option, but if possible use Wireless Protected Access (WPA) or WPA2. Use a strong password for your encryption key, consisting of at least 14 characters and mixing letters and numbers. 

See also: war driving

 

This was last updated in July 2012
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • air gapping

    - Air gapping is a security measure that involves removing a computer or network from any externally connected network physically and also ensuring there is also no wireless connection. The NSA TEMP... (WhatIs.com)

  • soft token

    - A soft token is a software-based security token that generates a single-use login PIN. Traditionally, a security token has been a hardware device that produces a new, secure and individual PIN for... (WhatIs.com)

  • FIDO (Fast Identity Online)

    - FIDO (Fast ID Online) is an open standard for a secure and easy-to-use universal authentication interface created to address the lack of interoperability among strong authentication devices. The F... (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Network security

    - Terms related to network security, including definitions about intrusion prevention and words and phrases about VPNs and firewalls.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.