Britons sign away their child to get free Wi-Fi

Britons sign away their child to get free Wi-Fi

LONDON - Several Britons agreed to give up their eldest child in return for the use of free Wi-Fi in an experiment to highlight the dangers of public Internet, the results of which were published on Monday.

Londoners were asked to agree to the terms and conditions as they logged on to use free Wi-Fi at a cafe in a busy financial district and at a site close to the Houses of Parliament.

The terms included a "Herod clause", under which the Wi-Fi was provided only if "the recipient agreed to assign their first-born child to us for the duration of eternity".

In the short period that the terms and conditions were live, six people signed up.

"As this is an experiment, we will be returning the children to their parents," said the tech security firm that ran the experiment, F-Secure.

The experiment was aimed to highlight "the total disregard for computer security by people when they are mobile", the report said.

German ethical-hacking company SySS built the device used in the study: a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot for around 200 euros (S$323) and it is small enough to be carried in a handbag.

In just 30 minutes, 250 devices connected to the hot spot - some of them doing so automatically due to their settings.

The company was able to collect the text of e-mail messages the devices sent, the e-mail addresses of the sender and recipient, and the password of the sender.

The head of Europol's European Cybercrime Centre told the study it already had reports of criminals using free Wi-Fi to steal personal data.

"At best, your device is only leaking information about you - at worst, your passwords are being spilled into a publicly accessible space...anybody on the network can see your information," said Sean Sullivan, F-Secure security adviser.

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