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Wi-Fi Piggybacking Widespread 459

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the five-finger-discounts dept.
BaCa sent in this article about stealing network access that opens, "Sophos has revealed new research into the use of other people's Wi-Fi networks to piggyback onto the internet without payment. The research shows that 54 percent of computer users have admitted breaking the law, by using someone else's wireless internet access without permission." Of course, online polls being what they are, the results are hardly a plank for a full investigation, but a good share of the answerers did 'fess up to it as well.
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Wi-Fi Piggybacking Widespread

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  • I agree its wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Byron II (671689) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:19PM (#21373053)
    but how is it illegal?
    • Since the law said it was, and judges set up precedence backing up that interpretation of the law.
    • Re:I agree its wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:32PM (#21373189)
      I don't agree that it is necessarily wrong, as long as it doesn't disrupt the service of the person who owns the Internet connection. What harm is done by me piggybacking on a neighbor's wifi connection at 2AM while they sleep, to check some email? As long as I don't mask crimes by it or interrupt the neighbor's ability to use their equipment, I fail to see what harm is done, and therefore, what is wrong with it.
    • by dwillden (521345) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:35PM (#21373219) Homepage
      The survey site and article are targeted at folks in the UK, where the legality of using an open wi-fi spot isn't as open as here in the US. Here, the FCC has said that if there is no attempt to lock it down, it's free game. There the rules are different. Thus the article is able to claim the act is illegal.
      • >Here, the FCC has said that if there is no attempt to lock it down, it's free game.

        I hadn't heard about this: do you have a reference I can point to if anyone asks?
    • Here are a few occasions instructing that using a wireless connection without payment, or without permission is illegal:

      "Two people have been arrested in the UK for using another person's wireless internet access without permission. Neither was charged but both were cautioned for dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services with intent to avoid payment." http://www.out-law.com/page-7969 [out-law.com]

      Another according to BBC NEWS where he was arrested for "Dishonestly obtaining free internet access is an offen
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        Here are a few occasions instructing that using a wireless connection without payment, or without permission is illegal

        These don't prove the illegality of anything. Both cases are of peopel charged. No mention of any convictions. And even if they were convicted, were they plea bargains in which case the law is never tested? The few cases I've heard of seem to be really "loitering" that was being punished, the cops or prosecutors added in the "unauthorised access" charge to beef up the charges.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by yelvington (8169)
      It's not necessarily wrong. Sophos is assuming, without reason, that an open access point isn't intended to be used. I would argue the opposite. Open access means "use me."

      Earlier this week at the Columbus, Ohio, airport, I appreciated not having to click through pages of legal disclaimers, threats, et cetera, to get to the Internet on the unsecured wifi access point that I found when sitting an airport waiting area. I was able to connect and quickly grab my email without having to mess around with a web br
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DJCacophony (832334)
        While I was away, my parents decided to get WiFi, without telling me until I returned. I looked at the configuration and they did not put a password on it. When I asked them about this, they said they didn't know about adding a password. Did they intend to make their internet available to everybody? NO. They just didn't know to protect it. An access point is open by default, so by your logic, all new access points are free to use until they're passworded, even if their owner doesn't know to add a passw
        • Re:I agree its wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

          by diamondmagic (877411) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @09:46PM (#21373819) Homepage
          Does anyone who buys a wireless access point seriously believe that they are the only ones who will be able to access it? The only way to tell if an access point is open or not depends on if it is broadcasting and if it is encrypted (the name, maybe, but I can imagine that being disputed in court too). The problem with default settings needs to lie with the manufacturers, and not the people who are setting them up or looking for public access points on the go.
          • by prockcore (543967) on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:57AM (#21375811)

            Does anyone who buys a wireless access point seriously believe that they are the only ones who will be able to access it?


            It's not unreasonable. My cordless phone didn't require a password, and I'd be pretty upset to find my neighbor using it.

            I think access points should come with a password out of the box.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jamar0303 (896820)
          Ignorance of the law has never been a defense in criminal cases. Why should it be a defense here? If they don't want to share and don't want to bother to learn how to set WEP, they can go for an Ethernet router.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by somersault (912633)
      It's hardly even 'wrong' if someone sets up their network openly. In fact I'd say if there is blame anywhere these days it's on the part of the person making their network open - somehow Windows decided to piggyback onto one of my neighbour's newly setup and unsecured wifi network. My internet access was really slow so I decided to reconnect the router, went to my bookmark for checking the internet connection status, wondered why the admin password had been reset to 'password', then realised that I was actu
    • by mrbluze (1034940)
      I think it is high time that people came out of the closet and admitted to all that backdooring.. err.. 'piggy-backing'. Then we can all accept that it's normal and get on with life.
  • by thermopile (571680) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:20PM (#21373061) Homepage
    Oh, come on .. I can't believe it's not more like 90 or 95 percent. In fact, I'm typing this while "borrowing" my neighbor's linksys network. The admi-- $$%110113944 NO CARRIER
  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:20PM (#21373065)
    What about people who keep their access points open and connect to other people's access points when they're away? I'd imagine that if somebody purposefully leaves their AP open that it wouldn't be stealing. The trouble is knowing if somebody intentionally has an unsecured WAP or if the person just never knew/bothered to secure it.
    • by Joe Tie. (567096) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:35PM (#21373221)
      Seriously. I leave mine open. If I see someone abusing the privilege I'll kick them off, but if someone wants to check google maps real quick then I'm happy to have been of help. There's been a large number of situations in my own past where an open network was of immense help, and I like the idea of being able to return the favor in some sense. I really hate the idea that the default way we're supposed to approach anyone is under the assumption that they're both too stupid to secure their connections, and too selfish to want anything but that.
      • by jc42 (318812) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @10:36PM (#21374195) Homepage Journal
        I leave mine open. If I see someone abusing the privilege I'll kick them off, but if someone wants to check google maps real quick then I'm happy to have been of help. There's been a large number of situations in my own past where an open network was of immense help, and I like the idea of being able to return the favor in some sense.

        Hey, who let a socially responsible person post to this discussion? Didn't we ban such people from slashdot? ;-)

        As a few others have pointed out, the wifi spectrum was intentionally made open for everyone to use. The intent was a Public Good: a wireless network capability that was available to anyone (or at least anyone with standards-compliant equipment).

        But it seems we have a lot of people here who are profoundly anti-open-communication, and think that people who caught communicating openly should be punished. This strikes me as a rather perverse misinterpretation of what the wifi spectrum was all about. In the US, it's also against the whole idea of the First Amendment.

        We should be arguing: If you don't believe in using the wifi spectrum for free, open communication, then you shouldn't be using it. Pay for a license to use your own block of restricted spectrum. Go away and don't bother those of us who want a small chunk of spectrum to remain a Public Good.

        We also need more people complaining that they want their AP open, and they object to official harassment of people using the wifi spectrum as it was designed to be used. Would that get the message across? Or would the officials just start harassing those of us running open APs?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      We set our SSID to "Open WIFI" so everyone knows we're sharing on purpose with the hopes that guests will do the same.
  • Encryption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:21PM (#21373075) Journal
    Considering many systems are configured to latch on to the strongest unprotected wifi signal they see, I've piggy-backed several times without intent.

    If you can't be bothered to set up even 40-bit WEP, then you have nothing to complain about. Hell, there are five signals that I can see from my house! Your RF is in my space! I should charge rent.
    • by jamesh (87723) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:53PM (#21373381)
      I was helping out someone over the phone at a client's remote office. He'd just come back from overseas and could connect to the wireless network and access the internet but couldn't connect to any of the internal systems. After checking all the obvious things I established a remote control session to his laptop and started looking around. The IP address of the wireless interface was nothing like what it should have been. I then connected to the Access point he was using and found that it was set up nothing like it should have been and DHCP was enabled. Aha! I thought. The Access point has been reset to factory defaults. I threw a new config at it and rebooted it, but things still weren't working right.

      Eventually, I figured out that while he was away, someone in a neighboring office must have set up an access point with the same SSID (NETGEAR - so the chances of it happening were pretty high!) and his laptop decided to connect to that instead. And i'd just reconfigured it with a fairly high level of security. Oops.

      Oh well... maybe next time their neighbor will put security on their access point!
    • by Oriumpor (446718)
      Does that mean if people connect to a honeypot WAP, get their credentials sniffed, personal information compromised and their system exploited the owner of the honeypot could sue them too?

      I'm in the wrong business...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Well, if you find you've connected to someone else's access point, and are worried that the cops may throw you in the poky as a hacker for using someone else's bandwidth, you could always do yourself a favor to make sure you don't violate the law again in the future... Log into the access point (http://192.168.1.1, likely login:admin, likely password:password), turn off Broadcast SSID, enable encryption, change the key to some obscure number by just hacking at the keyboard while your eyes are closed, save
  • by compumike (454538) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:23PM (#21373097) Homepage
    The article asserts that logging onto someone's AP without their permission is "breaking the law", but is that really clear? Do I have to explicitly ask for permission before I walk into a restaurant? Of course not -- there's a reasonable expectation that there are no barriers to my entry, so I'm allowed (even invited) in. But, while I think physical analogies to computer situations can be very misleading, in the real world entry becomes illegal when you've had to defeat some protection mechanism (a lock) to get in.

    So, to summarize: I feel like cracking someone's WEP key to get on their net is pretty damn illegal. But I don't think hopping onto an open net is unsecured. In fact, the fact that it's open may be interpreted as a sign that the owner intends to allow open access!

    --
    Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BrianRoach (614397)

      Your analogy is a tad bit flawed.

      If someone's car is parked on the street (public property), not locked, with the keys in the ignition ... do you have the right to take it or use it? Of course not. You'd be arrested for grand theft auto, even though the person did not take any steps to secure the vehicle .

      An unsecured WAP is much like the above car, you're still using something that doesn't belong to you without permission. You aren't paying for the internet connection, you didn't buy the WAP.

      - Roach
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by debest (471937)

        An unsecured WAP is much like the above car, you're still using something that doesn't belong to you without permission. You aren't paying for the internet connection, you didn't buy the WAP.

        I disagree. An unsecured WAP (with SSID broadcast enabled) is actually advertising that it is open for use. If you ask for permission to connect, its DHCP server grants you permission to do so. Hey, the WAP's owner configured it that way, why should we second-guess intent? Hell, most people's laptops don't even ask

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        now imagine if a city has 5,000 unlocked cars (with keys in the ignition) that have a cost to their owners of about $1/day. And the cars don't just sit there passively, if one is within 500 feet of you it pops on your OWN LIST OF YOUR OWN CARS helpfully asking if you'd like to use it. And if you do use it, the actual owner of the car can still use it too plus he can kick you out any time if he wants. and in fairness you might have a car that you let everyone else use too.

        this isn't theft, it's the first
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:24PM (#21373109)
    You start by just stealing that one song. Then another, then another. Pretty soon your stealing movies, games, operating systems. Now you move up to what's known as speedballing - stealing songs using someone elses wifi. You try to hide your addiction by using proxies, but you can't hide from your own thoughts. Sooner or later, you'll be stealing large chunks of the internet. And one day - one day - you'll be found dead in alley clutching your hacked iPhone and box of sim chips. The police probably won't even investigate your death.
    • The police probably won't even investigate your death.

      Maybe not, but I'm sure the RIAA would be interesting in suing your family.

      Dear Grieving Parent,

      Please accept our condolences for the unfortunate death of your son. Attached to this letter

      is a fine for breach of copyright of that songs he illegally pirated over the course of his short tragic life

      we hope you will pay this fee promptly otherwise we will be forced to take further action, either in court

      or procuring your next born child.

      Once a

  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:25PM (#21373117)
    When you have an ornery parent...that REFUSES to get broadband...even if he's paying MORE for dialup through earthlink...you get desperate when you're visiting. Especially when two or three neighbors are running unsecured WiFi.

    I think it should be legal unless you're cracking someone's WEP or WPA to get in.
    • by FirstNoel (113932)
      amen to that...
    • by forkazoo (138186)

      When you have an ornery parent...that REFUSES to get broadband...even if he's paying MORE for dialup through earthlink...you get desperate when you're visiting. Especially when two or three neighbors are running unsecured WiFi.

      I think it should be legal unless you're cracking someone's WEP or WPA to get in.

      I basically agree, but I do think that the threshold for doing something wrong is a bit before cracking an encryption key. IMHO, changing a MAC to get around MAC filtering, or logging onto an AP named "P

  • I fail to understand why this is illegal. I know that there is the argument that "you wouldn't go into their house if it the door was open and steal something!". Well no, I wouldn't. However, this being a technology issue (and a fairly recent one at that) I think it needs to be held to a different standard.

    If you fail to secure your network that tells me you don't care if people access it, and I think you should be allowed to share your access if you feel like it. I'm no computer genius... I couldn't get

    • by FLEB (312391)
      Basically, it boils down to the fact that some people know how to use the law better than they know how to fill in the "password" box... and there are enough frightened, unknowledgable, and indifferent people to back them up. It might not be right, it might even be destructive, but unfortunately, it's the law in an increasing number of places. The people have spoken, and the people don't know how to configure their router.
  • I have a wireless router that has the wireless turned off. My old router died and it was cheaper to buy a wireless one than a wired only one. They do come up open to the world by default. You have to actively lock it down. I would think that if they are open by default and that is how 90% leave them, there really should be no legal grounds for prosecution other than the judge's own technological ignorance.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:33PM (#21373197) Homepage
    Did I break the law? I didn't call up someone at net-security.org and specifically ask them if I can read their article.

    How is putting up an unsecured Wi-Fi connection any different than putting up an unsecured website?
    • The WPA actually ADVERTISES the fact that it exists.
    • When you connect to the network, most networks will have DHCP happily gives out all the information, even giving you an IP address automatically to any computer that asks.
    • Many people actually put up an unsecured AP with the INTENTION of giving out access. (And thus this becomes common expectation)
    • Many client computers will automatically connect to unsecured Wi-Fi APs
    • The technology exists to easily put a password on the Wi-Fi connection to prevent anyone from connecting to it


    oh, and here's one just for you people who like "it's like entering my house" analogies...
    • The wireless signals often times go right into MY house. i.e. I don't have to be one someone else's property to connect to an AP
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Here in Michigan they will throw you in PRISON for a FELONY for using a wifi connection without explicit permission. The corrupt police of Sparta Michigan even did so this past summer after he spent a week going through the law books in order to find something to slap on the dangerous man checking his email in front of the coffee shop.

      In order to keep it quiet they simply made the man pay a $500.00 fine and 30 days community service but he still has a FELONY conviction on his record for checking his email.
  • Download MP3s from P2P networks without worrying about being sued by the RIAA?

    Er ... wait, I mean ...

    - Roach
  • Furthermore, if you've hopped onto your next door neighbours' wireless broadband connection to illegally download movies and music from the net, chances are that you are also slowing down their internet access and impacting on their download limit. For this reason, most ISPs put a clause in their contracts ordering users not to share access with neighbours - but it's very hard for them to enforce this.

    So ISP's are trying to protect me from sharing my access with my neigbours and thus getting a slow internet
  • I intentionally leave my AP open so that anyone can use it if they wish. I don't see how this could be illegal for them if the owner of the access point, and the person paying for the bandwidth doesn't care if people use it. There's never more than one or two people on, I've never noticed my speed decrease because of it.
    • by Shados (741919)
      Note: The following is not how things -are-, nor is it how -I- think, its just something to think about.

      If you leave your wifi open, then obviously, people can do whatever with it. Now, obviously there's the (probably low) chance of people using it for something very, very wrong.

      Now from there, if one needs to track who did the very very wrong thing (I'm not talking RIAA jokes here, but something serious under a warrant from a court), two things can happen: It was your router, you deliberately (as opposed t
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lehk228 (705449)
        the gain of widespread free wifi is much greater than the harm of aononymous criminals. a pedophile cannot hurt a child with only an internet connection, a terrorist can't blow up a bus with only an internet connection, however only an internet connection can make the difference between finding your hotel and spending the night sleeping in your car cause you got lost. a free access point can keep you entertained, it can let you send an important email after a power surge toasts your modem, or GET an impor
  • by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:47PM (#21373315) Homepage
    You can have anything you wish, on "linksys" wireless.
    You can have anything you wish, on "linksys" wireless.
    Associate, it's on channel six;
    Fire up your browser and grab some bits.
    An' you can have anything you wish, on "linksys" wireless,
    On "linksys" wireless!
  • by Average (648) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:58PM (#21373437)
    Look. 2.4ISM is an unlicensed band. Under 200mW, I have rights to transmit anything I want to. Period. If your router interprets it as a part of an HTTP request, that's not my fault. The "I'm swinging my arms, and if you walk into them it's your fault" theory.

    And, I do think someone needs to introduce RFC 2131 (DHCP) into evidence. An open router responds to a polite request with a positive acknowledgment. It is possible to configure the box not to give that acknowledgment, probably via an encryption key, but also by MAC filters or turning off DHCP. Introduce the owner's manual while you're at it.

  • If someone steals my TV set, thats theft. However, the law says that I have to choose to press charges against the thief.

    The same should be true with open WiFi. Unless the owner of the WiFi router or device chooses to press charges, the police should not be able to charge them (i.e. what happened in the UK)
  • I hear that 100% of computer users have used someone else's HTTP server without permission!
  • I leave my connection open to share it with friends and neighbors who need a quick connection. It's easy to watch the flashing lights on the box next to my desk and there's never been a real problem. No one has abused it. No spammer has parked in front of my house and let loose a gazillion offers to fix the manhood of the nation. Really. It's been fine. It's like offering people a glass of water. It's like letting a traveling salesman turn around in my driveway. Some day, I hope that a contractor at my hous
  • I have plenty of bandwidth, and my neighbours are hardly networking gurus, so I get a lot more value out of them than they get out of me. Trading a few gig a month of bandwidth for all the dirty viewing habits of three apartments full of people and the ability to dump horse porn on their desktops at will. Good deal if you ask me. Plus it keeps the music industry from pinpointing the source of all the Britney albums I upload.
  • Step 1: Find a neighbor who is cool and possibly technologically challenged and see if he would be cool if you used some of his bandwidth for a while. Promise free computer services if he is a tough nut to crack.
    Step 2: Get a wireless router supported by DD-WRT [dd-wrt.com].
    Step 3: Download the haxor'd firmware from DD-WRT and configure your supported device as a wireless bridge.
    Step 4: Enjoy the internets! Step 5: To show your appreciation to your neighbor, get him a supported router and do the same thing with it so
  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @09:13PM (#21373565)

    I leave my connection open and my SSID reads "Use but dont abuse". At any given time, there are 10 MAC addresses in my DHCP log (I have 4 devices total). From what I can tell, NO ONE abuses the connection. One person (my elderly neighbor) uses it to email her kids and grandkids. What's wrong with that? I always have the bandwidth I need, and will continue to leave it open. By the way, only one other AP in this area is open. It's SSID is: Linksys.

    One other closed AP has the SSID: "Free Ride Is Over".

    I live in a community. Leaving my AP open benefits others within my community without adversely affecting me.
  • A major ISP in my country includes a wireless access point with their DSL gear. Everyone has one, whether they use the wireless or not. The problem is, the access point defaults to broadcasting a completely unencrypted signal. Most people that have their internet connection plugged in physically don't ever bother to look at the 'Wireless' settings on their box (the ISP isn't kind enough to inform anyone of their poor choice of defaults), so they have no idea that their connection is wide open. It's easy
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2007 @09:36PM (#21373747)
    Per Federal Law, Piggybacking IS legal
    US law clearly states that accessing unencrypted wireless is legal.
    But first, I want to address a lie that was started by Alex Leary, a reporter for the St Petersburg Times. I have been following this story since it appeared. A "Benjamin Smith" was never arrested by the St. Petersburg Police for unauthorized access to a computer network, never charged with a third-degree felony, never booked by the Pinellas County Sherff's Office, and never scheduled for a pretrial hearing. There was no follow up to the story because there was no trial. Alex Leary made the whole story up.
    Do not spread urban legends. Especially about the law. When you are told that something is against the law, ask which specific law? When you are told someone was arrested, ask for the booking number? Went to trial, docket number. When someone cannot answer these questions, do not believe them.
    Accessing unencrypted wireless is VERY legal.
    According to Title 18 (Crimes and criminal
    procedure) of the United States Code, Part I
    (Crimes), Chapter 119 (Wire and electronic
    communications interception and interception of oral
    communications) from
    http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime/wiretap2510_2522.htm [usdoj.gov] :
    2511. (2)(g) It shall not be unlawful under this
    chapter
    http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime/wiretap2510_2522.htm [usdoj.gov]
    or Chapter 121
    http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/cybercrime/ECPA2701_2712.htm [usdoj.gov]
    of this title for any person --
    (i) to intercept or access an electronic
    communication made through an electronic
    communication system that is configured so that such
    electronic communication is readily accessible to
    the general public;
    2510. Definitions
    (16) "readily accessible to the general public"
    means, with respect to a radio communication, that
    such communication is not --
    (A) scrambled or encrypted ;
    (B) transmitted using modulation techniques whose
    essential parameters have been withheld from the
    public with the intention of preserving the privacy
    of such communication;
    (C) carried on a subcarrier or other signal
    subsidiary to a radio transmission;
    (D) transmitted over a communication system provided
    by a common carrier, unless the communication is a
    tone only paging system communication; or
    (E) transmitted on frequencies allocated under part
    25
    http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_04/47cfr25_04.html [gpo.gov],
    subpart D
    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/octqtr/47cfr74.401.htm [gpo.gov] ,
    E
    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/octqtr/47cfr74.501.htm [gpo.gov] ,
    or F
    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/octqtr/47cfr74.600.htm [gpo.gov]
    of part 74
    http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_04/47cfr74_04.html [gpo.gov] ,
    or part 94 http://wireless.fcc.gov/rules.html [fcc.gov] of the
    Rules of the Federal Communications Commission
    http://wireless.fcc.gov/rules.html [fcc.gov] , unless, in the
    case of a communication transmitted on a frequency
    allocated under part 74
    http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_04/47cfr74_04.html [gpo.gov]
    that is not exclusively allocated to broadcast
    auxiliary services, the communication is a two-way
    voice communication by radio; [The unlicensed
    spectrum used by Wi-Fi
    http: [wikipedia.org]
  • by photomonkey (987563) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @10:26PM (#21374103)

    In 2004, I was covering the Presidential debate and Kerry rally following it in Phoenix.

    The press facilities at the debate were adequate, but sucked nine kinds of ass at the Kerry rally.

    As per company policy, I FTP'd my photos in following the event only to find out that most of them were received as corrupted.

    So I drove around with my laptop on the passenger seat looking for an open wireless point. I drove past a house with every light on, and an open access point. Since the light was on, I decided to ring the doorbell to let the homeowner know who was camped out in front of their driveway with a laptop.

    The guy came to the door and said the wireless was 'obviously' open for all to use, since he didn't lock it down. He told me I was welcome to come in and sit in the house while I worked, provided that he and his wife could look over my shoulder at the pictures.

  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @10:33PM (#21374163) Homepage Journal
    My landlady said I could use her wireless (she lived upstairs from me) but both she and a neighbor, who I never identified, had unsecured wireless, with both networks being named "linksys". They also used two different ISPs.

    My MacBook Pro's Airport card connected to each network more or less at random. When I connected to her's, it worked OK, but when I connected to her neighbor's, it didn't work at all. Sometimes the Airport would switch networks in the middle of my use of the Internet, which really got to be a drag.

    So I finally convinced her to let me rename and secure her access point. This went very well, and I was able to set up both my Mac and her WinXP laptop to use the newly secured net.

    Except that I made a crucial mistake: I performed the re-configuration wirelessly. I didn't do it by plugging an ethernet cable into her access point.

    Imagine my dismay when I realized I had reconfigured her neighbor's access point, and not her's!

    I sat in my room quaking with fear, awaiting the heavy bootheels of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police kicking down my door so they could haul me in for being a cyberterrorist.

    I never heard any complaints though, and eventually my neighbor's network was renamed to "linksys" and was again unsecured. My guess is that LinkSys tech support explained how to do a hard reset.

    My question for my Slashdot friends is this: who is the Rocket Scientist at LinkSys who decided to support wireless reconfiguration of their routers?

  • It's Not Stealing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by YetAnotherBob (988800) on Friday November 16, 2007 @09:34AM (#21378397)
    As long as we continue calling net access via unprotected gateways, music file downloading, etc 'STEALING' we are not going to be able to deal with the problems that are real.

    It isn't stealing. For music, it is copying without permission. that is wrong, but it isn't worse than murder, as US federal law currently maintains, and it isn't 'Piracy'. Piracy is a crime that involves murder, theft and the destruction of property, with rape and enslavement frequently thrown in. None of that happens on line. It isn't even physically possible.

    For net access, there are less drastic means to fix things. I run a home network that is open. I know that at least one neighbor has used it for their access. For the occasional email or light browsing, that's not a problem. I pay for the connection so that my family can use the net. As long as we are not inconvenienced, we are not harmed. My ISP has contracted with us to provide a certain level of data throughput, so they aren't out. We can't exceed our contract amount anyway. Where there is no harm, there is no reason for a stupid law.

    If I were running a business this would be different. Then, I wouldn't be running it wide open. Where someone has to break in, it should be illegal, but any open network connection should be able to be used.

    Can anyone show me where I'm wrong?

    P.S. I did have one incident where somebody was downloading something big, and we had seriously degraded performance on our home wifi. I solved it by unplugging the wifi for 15 minutes. Never happened again. Simple solutions are the best.
  • by mnemotronic (586021) <mnemotronic.netscape@net> on Friday November 16, 2007 @10:16AM (#21378967) Homepage Journal
    If 54% of adults admitted that they regularly used marijuana, or cheated on their taxes, or ran stop signs, you can bet your rusty router rules that the laws (or the "leadership") would be changed - in a hurry. Maybe the laws wouldn't be revoked ("yea, running stop signs is bad..."), but at least relaxed ("...just a warning").

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