I recently moved to a new apartment complex, had my DIY Time Warner box ready to go and hooked up my all my hardware. Everything booted fine but no connection to TW. I tested all the jacks in the apartment and came to the conclusion they were dead.
I grabbed my tool bag and walked outside the unit and found the Utility Closet and to my surprise it was unlocked. Once inside I found a small gray box that belonged to TW with wires coming in from the street and then splitting off into the apartments. (There was a lock but it was locked on only the first loop with the door hanging open) It was well labeled with apartment numbers and all I had to do was connect the coax. Bam, Internet was up and running.
I was pretty surprised that nobody questioned that I was messing around the utility closet (I had my slacks and polo shirt on) even the maintenance guy didn't seem to give it much thought. Could someone just splice my connection and capture my internet traffic? It would seem that no matter how good my firewall setup was inside the house, if the box outside is unlocked, the traffic leaving my home is up for grabs. Are we really that vulnerable? How do you protect yourself from something like this? VPN?