This is a public service announcement for all my brothers and sisters residing in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is listening to your wireless computer traffic. Worse, they've asked your neighbour to do the work for them!
I wish I was making this up! Most of us are familiar with the Neighborhood Watch program. I think far fewer are aware of the Neighborhood Network Watch. The NNW is tasked with finding "terrorist activity" over local WiFi (wireless) computer networks. And as of March 8th, the NNW is asking citizens to join the Home Network Awareness Program (HNAP). In the words of the U.S. government:
"Participants in HNAP would collect sample network traffic from their own home networks as well as samples from networks within the vicinity. The Neighborhood Network Watch will be making a set of freely available instructions on how to capture network traffic, using the open source packet sniffer TCPDUMP, and how to log onto nearby wireless networks that maybe being operated by neighbors."
Instructions can be found here and here. Your neighbours may already be recording the information going across your home's wireless network. And this recorded information is then sent directly to the Data Analysis Division (DAD - aka Big Brother).
Having packet sniffing software in your possession is illegal in some countries. Using such software to record network traffic that isn't your own (such as to listen to your neighbour) is illegal in most places. But in the U.S., the government is encouraging volunteers to wander the streets with laptops, recording 30-60 minutes of network traffic which is then emailed to DAD.
Turn your encryption on! Place your wireless router away from walls and windows, close to the center of your home. And consider adjusting the transmit power levels of your WiFi router to the lowest levels that still work for you. Not to prevent terrorists from using your Internet connection... get real. This advice is to stop your government and their HNAP volunteers from recording your email and banking passwords, personal information, and all the rest.