Homespot routers essentially create two wireless networks separated by a firewall: one network is for private use while the broadband operator offers the other as a public WiFi hotspot. Major broadband operators in Europe and the United States have adopted the homespot model as a low-cost way of rapidly expanding their domestic WiFi coverage.
The research house says broadband providers are not necessarily making it clear to consumers that their home routers were in effect supporting public WiFi. It cautioned that when consumers become aware of the dual-use, there was the real possibility of a backlash.
"While most operators now allow consumers to opt-out, if they so wish, most consumers simply have no idea that their routers are being used in this way," said research author Gareth Owen. "Given the current concerns around privacy and data security, the realization that home routers can be accessed by complete strangers is unlikely to be viewed in a positive light."