A large number of British web users are leaving themselves open to the risk of unscrupulous hackers hijacking their broadband connections, according to Moneysupermarket.com.

According to the comparison website, a 16 percent of UK users with wireless broadband accounts fail to protect their routers, which means they are putting themselves at risk of having their wireless router 'piggybacked' or being used by others to gain access to the net for free. In many cases, these 'piggybackers' use the free connection to steal bank details and identity information, or even to download illegal content.

Opinium Research carried out an online poll of 1,992 British adults between 27th and 29th of July 2008. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

The research also reveals that 11 percent of Brits have used someone else's wireless internet connection without permission in the past 12 months and of these 12 percent claim to hijack someone else's wireless connection every day, downloading films and music regularly.

"People are learning to be safe online but those using wireless can undo all that by leaving their network unprotected. An unsecured internet connection is just the same as leaving your front door open," said Rob Barnes, head of broadband and mobile phones at Moneysupermarket.com.

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