Connecting to WiFi with a Little Help from Your Facebook Friends and a Lot of Access for Your Enemies


If you’re one of the millions of Wifi users constantly looking for new ways to connect, a new app called Instabridge might sound like just the ticket.

The Swedish start-up is promising to become the world’s largest Wifi network by allowing users to connect to their friends’ and families’ wireless networks via Facebook without having to enter passwords or logins. How’s that for Wifi access?

On the face of it, Instabridge sounds like a revolutionary product designed to help us realize our wireless manifest destiny. The free Android-only app serves as a database for Wifi logins. Those who download it can choose which Facebook friends they want to access their Wifi networks whether they’re at home, in offices or at hotpots.

CEO Niklas Agevik says Instabridge is a small company with big ambitions – like taking over the world. In a recent press release, he had this to say: “We radically simplify access to Wi-Fi networks by building a network based on trust. Users will find themselves using Wi-Fi in new situations, lowering their mobile data usage, increasing battery life and increasing data rates.”

But wait a minute. What would connecting to other people’s Wifi through the world’s largest social network mean for your wireless security?

The 2012 Javelin Strategy & Research Identity Fraud Report found a significantly higher incidence of identity fraud among users of social media. It also found that seven percent of smartphone users were victims of identity fraud – a 1/3 higher incidence rate than the general public. Does that make you want to stake your wireless security on your Facebook friends’ online behavior? How could you be certain that their actions wouldn’t compromise the security of their Wifi networks and your own network?

Instabridge hasn’t directly addressed these troubling questions. But its terms of service make it crystal clear where the buck stops when it comes to protecting your privacy and your wireless security while using its app:

User Data
We do not assume any responsibility for collected information or User data shared with Instabridge. Neither are we responsible for any losses or damages incurred through the usage of Instabridge or User data, potential intrusions or any other situations. You agree that any data collected or stored by us is proprietary material and that it may be used for commercial purposes.

Data Protection
We take all possible precautions to ensure secure use of the Service and Wi-Fi. However, We are in no way liable for someone being able to use, intrude, hack, destroy or any other unauthorized access to a Wi-Fi network. Neither can We be held responsible for potential intrusions or hacks of a User’s device on which the Application is installed or any unauthorized access to networks that result from such action.

Rights and Obligations of User
When sharing your Wi-Fi network with others, it is your responsibility to make sure this action is not in violation of the terms and conditions of your contract with your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Instabridge has launched its free app in Scandinavia and the Baltic region, with launches in the U.S. and the rest of Europe scheduled to follow in early 2013.

It has also announced a partnership with Samsung that will make it possible to connect to your friends’ Wifi by simply tapping your phone against an NFC sticker or performing a one-click move.

The company is inviting users who want to get early access to its app to invite at least three friends on Facebook or Twitter. Its CEO says the typical user has 30,000 plus friends of friends on Facebook. And being able to access those networks means you get a huge network that you can use. That’s certainly groundbreaking; and it’s incredibly convenient.

But remember this: “Security is the enemy of convenience and convenience is the enemy of security.” Oversharing Wifi networks via the world’s largest social network is certainly no exception. Whether you’re doing it at hotspots, at work or at home, it opens up a whole new universe of possibilities for cybercrime.

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