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Over half of computer users admit to illegally logging onto someone else's wireless broadband connection, new research has revealed.

The widespread practice of wi-fi tapping was revealed in a poll conducted by global internet security company Sophos on behalf of the Times, which found 54 per cent of computer users confessed to piggybacking on an unsecured wireless broadband connection.

The poll comes in the wake of separate survey from GetSafeOnline showing that eight million people leave their wi-fi connection unsecured.

Graham Cluey senior technology consultant at Sophos said the figures highlighted that is essential to effectively secure your system to safeguard against the potential for identity theft and of illegal misuse of your connection.

"The message is loud and clear - properly secure your wireless access to prevent freeloaders and hackers from abusing your internet connection. You wouldn't leave the doors wide open in your house, so why allow it with your internet access."

Despite the prevalence of wi-fi tapping, just 11 people have been arrested for the crime since it was made illegal under the Communications Act 2003.

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