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Earthquake zone residents urged to leave Wi-Fi open

In the wake of the Italian earthquake which has claimed the lives of several hundred people, local residents of stricken areas are being asked to remove the password protection on their Wi-Fi networks, as mobile networks continue to remain down.

The Italian Red Cross put the call out first, as it was struggling to organise its various support workers and their expanded teams, with spotty coverage and unstable networks. With open Wi-Fi connections in various areas, that at least gives data access to those who need it (thanks Ars).

Currently some 4,300 rescue workers are involved in the clearing of rubble in a desperate attempt to recover those who may still be trapped beneath it. Coordinating that many people without unified communications tools has proved difficult, but as Wi-Fi networks open up and some mobile coverage is restored, it's hoped that it will become easier.

Of course traditionally it's a very bad idea to leave your Wi-Fi network unsecured. Not only could someone hijack your connection and use it to infiltrate the hardware you have connected to the service, but it could be used for identity theft or even to make you a scapegoat of a crime committed on the network.

In this instance though, the Italian Red Cross suggests that convenience trumps security for the time being.

KitGuru Says: While most of you are unlikely to be able to help out with Wi-Fi, don't forget you can donate directly to the Italian Red Cross which will give them funds they desperately need to continue the rescue efforts. 

Donate here.

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