Understanding the Risk of “Borrowing” a Neighbor’s Wi-Fi

No matter if it is due to cost, waiting for a new modem to arrive, or forgetting to pay the internet bill, there are several reasons why a person may want to “borrow” a neighbor’s Wi-Fi signal. Surely doing so is a victimless transgression, right?

It is not unusual to hear of Wi-Fi piggybackers finding themselves hit with legal action, but the reasons for refraining from using someone else’s internet connection without asking to go deeper. Chron explored the issue and its inherent risks.

Identity theft 

A person never knows when she or he may live next to an online criminal. By using a neighbor’s internet connection, there exists the risk of becoming an identity theft victim. This is especially true when it comes to autofill features that automatically fill in a person’s account passwords and various financial information in website fields.


Even if a neighbor does not harbor ill intentions, she or he may have malware such as a virus or Trojan horse. If so, then anyone “borrowing” their connection could find their computer infected with the same malware.

Fake hotspot 

Venturing away from home, a person may connect to free Wi-Fi by finding an unsecured hotspot. Unbeknownst to the seemingly lucky person, that hotspot could be a way for online criminals to gain access to passwords, bank account information, and the like. Touching back on the legality of using an internet connection without permission, law enforcement sometimes sets up fake hotspots to use as lures to attract people looking to “borrow” Wi-Fi.

Using another person’s internet connection may not seem like an outright crime, but the fact that doing so is currently legally murky is reason enough to not engage in the act. Outside of the law, Wi-Fi “borrowers” risk a lot in regards to their security when using another’s internet connection without permission.