Police: Man hijacked neighbor's wifi to download child porn - WSMV News 4

Police: Man hijacked neighbor's wifi to download child porn

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

An innocent man was nearly arrested on child pornography charges because of a mistake millions of people make.

Police showed up at the home of a Metro teacher whose only mistake was not properly securing his wireless router.

Last November, condominiums in Hermitage popped up on the radar of Metro police after a cyber crime task force discovered someone there was downloading child pornography.

"We developed an IP address from an internet in south Nashville that had downloaded some child pornography from," Detective Robert Carrigan said. "Through subpoenas, we were able to trace back to the address that the IP address was linked to."

From that IP address, detectives narrowed it down further to an actual condo unit.

"Before we executed the search warrant on the first address, the information came back from the internet service provider on the second address, and we realized they were side-by-side addresses," Carrigan said.

The person police thought was their suspect turned out to be not involved at all. It was his neighbor, David Birdsong, who was pirating his internet service, which was not password-protected.

"It certainly caused a little bit of a hassle for the original family who hadn't done anything except not securing their stuff," Carrigan said.

Mitch Comstock with Legendary Computers makes his living cleaning up these kinds of messes. He said these are the kinds of things most people don't think about until the worst has already happened.

"It doesn't happen to a lot of people, so the risk is actually low on it actually occurring to you," Comstock said. "But when it does happen, if the result is the FBI shows up, or somebody hacks into my banking information, it's a pretty big problem."

Comstock said not protecting your internet service can be far more dangerous than most people imagine.

"You know how you have a password with the little stars on it? With a packet sniffer, it would show me what all that info is," Comstock said. "Your username, your password and the sites you're connected to."

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