I spent over 22 years in the FBI performing criminal cyber and forensics investigations. Many of these investigations led us to people who were innocent of the alleged crimes but who were guilty of unknowingly allowing criminals to hijack their home or business Wi-Fi networks. These cyber-criminals were committing crimes while leaving a digital fingerprint that pointed at people guilty only of poor Wi-Fi security.
If you do not encrypt your Wi-Fi settings, you may get an early morning visit from my former FBI colleagues investigating federal crimes such as child pornography or terrorist threats. Why? You might be the victim of a nefarious behavior known as “War Driving,” which occurs when cyber-criminals drive through your neighborhood, identify unencrypted Wi-Fi signals, and do their evil bidding using your Internet Protocol or IP address. When law enforcement checks the IP address associated with the criminal behavior, it is your name and address that surfaces. Often this connection can be the basis for a criminal search warrant with your name on it. Many a front door has knocked down as a result of this kind of search warrant.