As mobile internet remains cut off, youth turn Wi-fi hackers in Valley
In a narrow alley connecting a prominent hotel and a shopping mall near Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, five school children huddle together with smartphones in their hands. A closer look reveals that they are checking Facebook and downloading gaming apps.
This seems nothing short of an anomaly in a region reeling under a communication curfew. Mobile Internet services in Kashmir have been snapped for nearly 50 days now.
“How do you have an Internet connection on your phone?” the reporter asks.
One of the children, a Class 10 student, answers without looking up. “We have hacked into the Wi-fi network of a private bank in this mall.”
Feigning ignorance, the reporter asks the children for help. “I urgently need to access the Internet,” he says.
Another child in the group, a Class 7 student, finally gives in. He points at an app called ‘WPS WPA Tester’ on Google Play. “This app allows you to hack into comparatively weaker Wi-fi connections. It’s easy.”
The children gather around the reporter and copy the app to his phone through a file-sharing system. They then launch a scan to detect six connections in the area.
While four are colour-coded red, two emerge green. The children promptly identify the bank’s network, and before the reporter even knows what’s happening, his phone is happily flashing the Wi-fi symbol.
So, how did the children come upon this novel way of side-stepping the government’s action? The Class 10 student shrugs. “Necessity is the mother of invention. Without an Internet connection, we can’t watch movies, play games or listen to music. We simply had to figure out a way,” he says.
As mobile Internet remains cut off across the Valley, most youngsters without access to personal broadband connections have adopted ‘ad-hoc measures’ to remain connected.
While some have acquired the passwords of Wi-fi networks at business establishments in Srinagar, others have simply hacked into them. This, understandably, has raised the hackles of those who feel that their bandwidth is being stolen.
“Youngsters – even girls at times – park their two-wheelers near our house, hack into our Wi-fi and browse on their phones,” says an indignant woman resident of Lal Bazaar area.
A senior teacher at a private school in Srinagar blames such activities on the ongoing curfew in the Valley. “Youngsters have become restless. How many movies or TV shows can one watch? It’s not surprising that children are up to such things… they are looking for ways to channel their energies,” she says.