Unauthorised access to wireless local area networks: The limitations of the present Australian laws

Niloufer Selvadurai*, Md Rizwanul Islam, Peter Gillies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Wireless local area networks (WLANs) have enjoyed a rapid increase in usage in recent years. WLANs serve to connect users to the Internet by means of radio or infrared frequencies. The rise in WLAN usage has however served to highlight some of the inadequacies of the present laws governing unauthorised access to WLANs. At present, the legislation serves to make unauthorised access, modification or impairment of electronic communications illegal. It is clear that the provisions prohibit the hacking of computer systems and denial of service attacks. However, it is unclear whether the legislation extends to additional forms of unauthorised access such as wardriving (using software to identify and map freely available WLAN) and joyriding (accessing a network with no further damage to the connection). The liability of Internet Service Providers and those engaged in unauthorised access in public places also remains unclear. Finally, the relationship of the offence of unauthorised access to the tort of trespass and the laws of copyright remain untested. The objective of this paper is to consider the measures necessary to increase the effectiveness of WLAN laws. The paper will begin by considering the nature of WLAN technology and the policy discourse to date. This will be followed by an examination of the present Australian law and an identification of areas of uncertainty. Finally, the paper will consider the measures required to enhance the certainty and effectiveness of the laws governing unauthorised access to WLAN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-542
Number of pages7
JournalComputer Law and Security Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


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