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Australian Police Plan Wardriving Mission 340

Posted by timothy
from the village-green-preservation-society dept.
bfire writes "Police officers in the Australian state of Queensland plan to conduct a 'wardriving' mission around select towns in an effort to educate citizens to secure their wireless networks. When unsecured networks are found, the Police will pay a friendly visit to the household or small business, informing them of the risks they are exposing themselves to. Officers also hope to return to surveyed areas within a month to see if users have fixed their security settings. The idea is modeled on another campaign where officers walk around railway stations checking cars have been locked, and leaving notes warning people of the dangers involved with leaving their vehicles unsecured."
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Australian Police Plan Wardriving Mission

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  • by Stuart Gibson (544632) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:03AM (#28727103) Homepage

    "checking cars have been locked, and leaving notes warning people of the dangers involved with leaving their vehicles unsecured."

    So, as a criminal, the police have saved me the trouble of having to work out which cars are unlocked by flagging them up for me?

    Slightly more on topic, is there a law against leaving your network open in Australia? What if I'm just being helpful, will they continue to badger me until I lock down my access point?

  • by ring-eldest (866342) <[ring_eldest] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:09AM (#28727127)
    Seems like some kind of pseudo threat to me. What are they implying, that if some criminal uses their open access port to post goat porn to /b/ the home owner is going to be criminally liable? What if you _like_ having an open access port, and don't mind if your elderly neighbors use it occasionally to check their email? Quite frankly it doesn't seem to be the homeowner's job to lock the world down in order to prevent crime, especially crime that can be remedied by pulling a plug, if it ever actually causes the homeowner to lose bandwidth. Come to think about it, it's not the cops job to prevent crime either.

    So, who exactly is this benefiting? My guess would be whoever provides ISP service has been hitting up their political puppets... after all, your 60 year old neighbor should get with the times and start paying $100 a month for internet access like all the other good citizens.
  • Re:yes and..? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:23AM (#28727199) Homepage

    They will say that by doing it deliberately you are aware of and accept the risks and responsibility of unknown third parties using your network to do illegal things... So if someone decides to download a bunch of kiddie porn through your open wifi, the cops will come straight back and arrest you for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:38AM (#28727267)

    Seems like some kind of pseudo threat to me. What are they implying, that if some criminal uses their open access port to post goat porn to /b/ the home owner is going to be criminally liable?

    It is not a threat. It is a fact. If your WLAN is left open and someone commits crimes through it, you could be really screwed. In most cases it would probably not be enough to prove that you did the crime and get you a sentence in court but it could still land you a lot of trouble. And it could be used maliciously: Let's say that a co-worker that likes neither you or your boss comes to use your WLAN to harass your boss?

    There are risks in having an open WLAN. Some of them have something to do with you becoming suspected of crime, some are about how other people can commit crimes against you. It can be argued if the police is the best organization to educate about this or not but police certainly can do it and it is important thing to do.

    What if you _like_ having an open access port, and don't mind if your elderly neighbors use it occasionally to check their email?

    Then they say "Okay." and go to the next apartment. This isn't about them coming to force you protect your WLAN, it is about educating that "Hey, your WLAN is open. Are you aware of the risks?" Because honestly, there are a lot of WLANs that are open because their owner has forgotten to protect them, doesn't know how to do it or doesn't even know that it should be done. I would guess that these even outnumber those who leave it open intentionally.

    Quite frankly it doesn't seem to be the homeowner's job to lock the world down in order to prevent crime,

    Same can be said about locking your apartment's door. It isn't a homeowners job, right?

    especially crime that can be remedied by pulling a plug, if it ever actually causes the homeowner to lose bandwidth.

    In some cases the crime can cause a lot more. Perhaps the cops should visit you?

    Come to think about it, it's not the cops job to prevent crime either.

    Wait, what? Police is supposed to execute the laws which tell what people shouldn't do. It certainly isn't limited to investigating the wrongs that people have already done.

  • What "risks"??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:39AM (#28727271)
    What risks are they exposing themselves to? Does Australia hold carriers responsible for content? How would a residential open WiFi differ from the free WiFi at a coffee house?

    I think I would warn the cops about the "risks" of coming to my home and harassing me...
  • Re:yes and..? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nbucking (872813) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:40AM (#28727277) Homepage
    Yeah but any good security+ certified IT professional knows that even a locked down wireless network is never completely secured. Like a car there are ways around a wireless security. I used to go out with a team and would crack networks of clients to see if they were updating and standardizing their encryption keys. It was rare that we cracked them but the fact that we did shows that even a secure network is never too secure. And there are always new vulnerabilities. So even if they warn you that is not an excuse to throw you in jail.
  • by corsec67 (627446) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:41AM (#28727279) Homepage Journal

    Also, what is to prevent a thief from dressing up in similar clothing to a cop, and then wandering around checking the door locks like these police do?

  • Re:yes and..? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bronney (638318) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:42AM (#28727285) Homepage

    never ever talk to a police officer, nothing good will come out of it. Just speak Klingon and ignore them.

  • Re:yes and..? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pastis (145655) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:54AM (#28727341)

    Exactly. And this false sense of security will play against you if someone uses your line inappropriately.

    You: "Your honor I didn't do it"
    Them: "yeah, right. Your line was secured, only you could have done it"

    instead of

    You: "Your honor I didn't do it. My line was open anyone could have done it."
    Them: "..."

  • Re:yes and..? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kidbro (80868) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:55AM (#28727343)

    [citation needed]

    This sounds very strange. I'm going to refrain from throwing out obvious car analogies, but how can you be convicted for crimes someone else committed? Does this apply to all parts of the carrier chain? Your ISP? The phone company whose physical lines the ISP is using? The state owning the ground those lines are in?

  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:57AM (#28727355) Journal

    Right. Because, every day, the news [google.com] is positively littered with articles about thieves who have used an unlocked car as a ram.

    As if smashing the window and opening the door the old-fashioned way were so difficult.

    [/sarcasm, for the sarcasm-impaired.]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:02AM (#28727387)
    I think it's just a shortcut for general internet abuse that everybody recognises quickly. Like when people say that it's important to have a decent police force to catch the murderers, rather than the importance of distributing ASBOs. If your open access is used to deface web sites, it may also come back to you, but it's less likely to do so, and it probably wouldn't lose you your job if it did, so it's just easier to give the extreme example and leave it there.
  • by Tom (822) on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:23AM (#28727489) Homepage Journal

    Sometimes, things like that are dirty, yes.

    Sometimes, they're just the result of some actual cop doing some actual thinking and coming up with the idea that driving around and warning people that their car is unlocked or their WLAN open may cost X, while the police actions resulting from these problems will cost Y, and X prevent crime instead of always going after the culprits after something bad has already happened. It's not a very pleasing job, that.

  • by Tom (822) on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:26AM (#28727509) Homepage Journal

    And because in one unlikely, rare event the thing doesn't work out, that means?

    Everything has its downsides. Heck, feeding starving children in Africa probably creates a few fatalities (overeating, getting sick, or being killed when the sack of rice falls on you, whatever). It's just that the net effect is positive.(*)

    (*) let's not discuss the Africa example, I know that in some cases it's not positive, local economy and all that.

  • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nexusuk.oGAUSSrg minus math_god> on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:44AM (#28727827) Homepage

    I've moved to a new apartment 3 months ago. My building is in a very dense populated area. Due to bureaucrat issues, I was over one month without an internet connection. Since I had over 25 available wireless networks on my house I gave the http://www.aircrack-ng.org/doku.php?id=tutorial [aircrack-ng.org] aircrack online tutorials a shot. It was amazing how easy it is to crack a WEP connection. On average I took less than 10 minutes to crack a WEP wireless. Over 40% of people(at least around here), still use this totally insecure encryption method.

    Yep, I use WEP. I still own devices that won't do anything newer. I don't really see the insecurity as a big deal - an open AP is an advertisement that you don't mind random people using it, an AP with some kind of security (even if it's weak) tells people it isn't for public use. If you choose to break the WEP key then you're choosing to break the law.

    I live in a neighbourhood where there are at least 2 other networks within range that are totally open, so I suspect people won't care about mine, but more importantly all my machines are secure and the traffic between internal machines on the network is encrypted, so it isn't really that big a deal if someone breaks into it.

    If I had an access point that could reliably do virtual SSIDs (sadly the WRT54GL won't - it can do virtual SSIDs but they have to share the same address which confuses too many clients), I would likely set up a separate open network that used a transparent proxy to do logging so that anyone could use it.

    I have a HP shop on the other side of the street, that has a big splash symbol on the window "Microsoft Certified". They have IT consultants and they are using WEP. What a joke.

    Not really - they may require a WEP network in order to connect older devices that have no WPA/WPA2 support. Unless you've broken the law and actually cracked the key and investigated further then you have no idea what underlying security they have beneath the WEP - they might only allow ESP+AH traffic, in which case there is absolutely no security problem at all.

    Also WAP is not difficult to crack with weak passwords, and most of the people don't have a clue about strong passwords.

    Guess what - most people have door locks that are trivial to pick if you have the right knowledge and tools. There is only so much you can do to stop criminals. I'm sure you don't upgrade all your door locks to the latest greatest high security ones every time someone works out how to pick them, why should you expect people to replace all their wireless kit every time a compromise is found?

  • by Threni (635302) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:44AM (#28728237)

    "I know it's open. I'm leaving it open. It's not illegal to host an unsecured connection. Be sure to come back if you have reason to believe any laws are being broken."

  • by plague3106 (71849) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:47AM (#28728285)

    If you didn't want to discuss your African example, you should have ommitted it. But I find it to be a good example... because the net effect is not positive. The food is stolen by warlords, and frees up their resources for other things... like more guns. There was actually a story about this not to long ago. The efforts in Somolia are in fact fueling the pirates there..

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:43AM (#28728921) Homepage Journal

    "If I had an access point that could reliably do virtual SSIDs ... I would likely set up a separate open network that used a transparent proxy to do logging so that anyone could use it."

    That is an INCREDIBLY BAD IDEA. Do NOT log anything - for 2 reasons:

    1) There is the possibility of logging information that could be considered "private" - in the (admittedly unlikely) event that somebody caught wind of it, you might find yourself on the receiving end of a civil suit and/or a criminal charge. The fact such a charge would likely be found unwarranted in no way mitigates the expense and hassle of dealing with it.

    2) Should the police trace something to your connection, they WILL subpoena those logs. If and when they don't find what they are looking for, they will assert you have what they want and didn't surrender it, and they will tear your place apart looking for it. If you keep the logs for $TIMEPERIOD, and the event happened at $TIMEPERIOD+$POSITIVEDELTA ago, they will STILL want the logs - and the statement "I deleted them" will be portrayed at "COLLABORATION with TERRORISTS and PAEDOPHILES!" (again, it doesn't matter if they ultimately succeed in that, the cost of defending against it will be staggering).

    Ultimately, the rule to follow is "Record NOTHING you don't want to see on the 6 o'clock news, or have used against you in a court of law."

    Sad, but true.

  • by Aphoxema (1088507) * on Friday July 17, 2009 @10:05AM (#28729259) Homepage Journal

    Thank you, Judge. I'm so happy you're here to tell us we can't be impressed by someone's paint job or check out their bobblehead.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Friday July 17, 2009 @10:05AM (#28729269)

    Fuck off.
    I've never stolen a car or broken into one but I have every fucking right to walk through a car park.

    You don't like it?
    Piss off and keep your precious penis substitute locked in your garage.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday July 17, 2009 @10:07AM (#28729287) Homepage Journal

    I really wish police officers would act as part the community, interacting with us, instead of acting as a separate society, above and over us.

    The last time I approached a police officer in public, we ended up discussing his laptop and the car's electronics for a few minutes. Trust me, I've been hassled by the cops for innocent behavior before, and I'm no cop-lover. But to assume that they're all mega-assholes is just dumb. What they are is deluded into thinking that they can make (on balance) a positive difference by taking a job which basically forces them to be a bully.

    I'm not saying that we should make all the cops go away right now, but consider the reality of "THE SYSTEM". I live in a county which occasionally has had the highest per-capita collection of cops in the USA, allegedly to deal with the local methamphetamine problem (among other popular drugs.) But those drugs are kept illegal and kept desirable in this country by prohibition because, among other things, it supports police departments being able to hire a lot of cops and buy a lot of equipment. I'm not saying the cops are throwing the drug war, I'm saying that the people making the policies and laws they enforce are doing it.

    A healthier society wouldn't need so many cops, and you can't make the system healthier by throwing more cops at it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @11:10AM (#28730161)

    Locks are only meant to keep honest people honest....

  • by raju1kabir (251972) on Friday July 17, 2009 @11:12AM (#28730191) Homepage

    You just plain shouldn't be hanging out in a parking lot where you don't have a car in most cases. And you DEFINITELY shouldn't be taking an inventory of what's in which car. That is, plain and simple, preparation to steal from the vehicles. Not to steal the cars, just their contents.

    So now looking at things is preparation to steal them? Is looking a woman preparation to rape her? What about slowing down and looking twice? Perhaps you need a burka for your car.

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Friday July 17, 2009 @04:55PM (#28734925) Homepage Journal
    Wait...

    The cops come questioning you just to find out if you really live there? What the hell business of theirs is it where you live?

    Yeah, I'm a little more typically American - a cop shows up at my door, he's not coming in, and he'd better have a damned good reason to be trespassing on my lawn.
  • by demonlapin (527802) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:01PM (#28734985) Homepage Journal
    I would never let a police officer - on duty or off - into my home unless they had a warrant or it was a crime scene. Ever. Why on earth would you?

    Just because the police are a necessary evil does not mean they are not evil. Just better than the alternative.

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