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Wireless Networking Government Security Hardware News

Australian Police Plan Wardriving Mission 340

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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  • yes and..? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by marcushnk ( 90744 ) <senectus AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:07AM (#28727111) Journal

    so what do you think they'll say when I say I do it deliberately ?

    I don't mind sharing my wifi with complete strangers. I restrict it to make sure they can't cost me too much and everything I do on it is encrypted via VPN so - meh!

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:08AM (#28727115) Homepage

    I also like the idea of police officers visiting every home and place of business, more as a social visit and to establish better ties between the police and civilians. You know, get to know 'your' local police officer and, establish a more social contact with at least one officer whom you can contact in the event of need. Also it would help to remind officers of what their role really is in assisting the public to maintain a civil and orderly society.

    Of course while it might work in Australia, in the US with pepper spray and taser abuse out of control and with 'public' discussions of the effectiveness, legality and use of torture it would likely have the opposite affect and drive an even greater wedge between 'law enforcement' and the public.

  • Irony (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Starlon ( 1492461 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:11AM (#28727139)
    One of my internships involved installing free and open wireless access points around my university's small town. I always wondered if another student would be taking them all down in the future. Some things are just too good to be true. Although, I hear some homeless are making use of free access points in their own cities. Why would anyone want to take that away? I'm all for free internet, and enjoyed the internship, but something tells it's just not going to last.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:20AM (#28727185)

    So when a kid demonstrates he can access his school's network or a customer demonstrates that he can get free calls from a phone system, they will be thrown out of school for 'hacking' or arrested for 'theft of service'. But when the police do it, it's fine?

    Whats happening here?

  • by hughk ( 248126 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:25AM (#28727203) Journal

    It seems that two of the largest organisations hating the sharing of WiFi access are the police, who don't like the fact that unofficial open access points don't log and the ISPs who hate to think that they are losing a potential customer.

    Some years back in London, a chain of winebars (C&B) offered free access for their customers with no fancy tumbling time code or anything (you, know where they print a code that has a limited validity on the till receipt).. A story appeared in one of the papers about how people were able to 'steal WiFi access' showing the 'security consultant' with a laptop in the city of London demonstrating that there was open WiFi. Yep, because they are standing directly outside that Winebar (out of shot). I have stood there myself, as the bar was too noisy, so I could use Skype over WiFi to contact my SO. This is fairly common practice now, but it disrupts the business models of people like Vodafone or commercial WiFi providers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @05:49AM (#28727321)

    Kiddie porn is the new communism. The people who abuse the suffering of children to scare other people into giving up their rights are the real baddies here.

  • Re:yes and..? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:05AM (#28727403) Journal

    The problem with what you are saying is you are thinking like an IT guy, that is to say you are logically walking through the steps from point A to Z. Not your fault really, it is pretty much the way most of us do it.

    The problem with using logic is that Child Porn has become the new red scare and sadly logic often don't have shit to do with whether you will be spending years in PMITA prison or not. See McMartin preschool [] and Little Rascals Daycare [] for examples.

    Now see, if they had actually used logic they would have said something like "Chuck Norris killing elephants in dungeons? WTF?" but instead they bulldozed the place to the ground actually looking for the fricking dungeon! So sadly until we get rid of scaremongers like Nancy Grace and start actually using logic in the courtrooms again you would have to be batshit crazy to have an open Wifi. Because your logic doesn't really help you when everyone is treating you like a monster, the state has confiscated all your possessions and leaves you to rot in some cell.

    Sad that we have fallen this far down the rabbit hole, especially when the vast majority of sexual abuse cases involves a family member or family friend and not some Internet bogeyman, but you simply can't deny reality. If the cops kick down your door and scream "Child molester!" while pointing at you nowadays you are guilty, and whether you can prove your innocence later it will often still cost you years of your life, your friends, maybe even your family. It just isn't worth it.

  • Re:yes and..? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:23AM (#28727493)

    Most IT pros know this, but in most countries, an illegal act coming from an IP is evidence enough to convict (in a criminal) or find the IP's owner at that time culpable for wrong doing (in a civil matter). There has yet to be a single precedent in the US and europe to disassociate an IP with a physical person. For all intents and purposes, someone acting from x.x.x.x is acting as Joe Schmoe.

    Open wireless: The owner gets held liable for criminal negligence, or as a accessory.

    Closed wireless: The prosecution or plaintiff's counsel will just point out that it is almost impossible that this type of breach could happen, and this is good enough for preponderance, and usually reasonable doubt.

    This can burn corporations and organizations as well as individuals. All it takes is a disgruntled employee who decides to sneak a wireless AP in to a company, sets it to open, does some actions parked nearby to cause law enforcement or civil enforcement groups to issue motions of discovery, and that company is in a load of hot water without a single reasonable defense, unless they are a larger company and have the legal muscle to combat such a legal threat.

  • by ConfusedVorlon ( 657247 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:39AM (#28727571) Homepage

    People who donate money to charity will lose that money.
    People who donate some of their bandwidth to passing surfers probably lose nothing.

    Surely the police should be concentrating on the cases where there is a more significant danger of loss.

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

    by zmollusc ( 763634 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @06:43AM (#28727585)

    If you are the only one acting as an INDIVIDUAL in the chain, you will come off worst. Want to trade kiddy porn? Form a publicly traded company as a front, then any criminal downloading can be investigated 'in-house' with the details hidden for reasons of commercial confidentiality etc.

  • by c0p0n ( 770852 ) <copong@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:39AM (#28727799)

    Well, the police also lock the cars as well as putting notes on them...

    How exactly? My car can only be locked with both doors already closed. This is a safety to make it impossible for you to be locked out. So if you wanna lock it without keys from outside, you need one window down (which they wouldn't be able to as the electric motors require the ignition to be on).

    Plus I don't want anyone fiddling with my car, good intentions or otherwise. Still an invasion of my property.

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

    by SnapShot ( 171582 ) * on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:55AM (#28727889)

    Agreed. I like being able to check my email from my laptop around the city -- sitting outside at the park or at a cafe that doesn't offer wifi -- and I like to return the favor. Leaving wifi open (within reason) is just being a good neighbor.

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:00AM (#28727925)

    In Belgium when you move, the local cop will make a visit when you moved. This is to see if you live where you say you live. This can go from just knocking on your door and say hello to actually walk around and see if you live there, not just rent the place as a fake address.

    A friend of mine had a nice chat and some coffee with the guy.

    For me it took some three months and he really looked if I lived there, because each time he could I worked or was in another country and when I could he was not available. So he might have thought I was just renting the place with nothing in it, so e.g. debt collectors can not take away my stuff, while in reality I was living in a mansion.

    In another town, my local cop was somebody who I often shared a beer with. And when I had a ticket, I just gave him the money and he would do the rest. He then would put the proof of payment in my mailbox. That way I did not need to go to the post office and buy the stamps. The system is now changed and I can pay directly via my bank.

    In those days, the local cops would get the first beer free in the pub and payed for everything after that. I liked it, because I knew they knew what was going on in their neighborhood and so what if they where sometimes drunk. It showed the rest they were people as well and made the distance much smaller.

    But then in Belgium drinking is not something that is frowned upon and the result is that we have the world largest brewery company.

  • Re:wardriving (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:02AM (#28727935) Homepage Journal
    In the first Mad Max movie, Max was a cop.
  • by hab136 ( 30884 ) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:17AM (#28728025) Journal

    I also like the idea of police officers visiting every home and place of business, more as a social visit and to establish better ties between the police and civilians.

    The last time I approached a police officer in public to ask a question, he immediately said "get away from me" before I could even say anything. He was doing paperwork, FYI.

    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.

  • by Savior_on_a_Stick ( 971781 ) <> on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:35AM (#28728827)

    We were amazed that our old POS 20 year old Dodge Spirit was stolen from a shopping center parking lot.

    It was found later parked (in two space) in the lot of some subsidized apartments.

    I was expecting to find a destroyed ignition lock from someone using a screwdriver or dent puller on it.
    It was unscathed.

    I know the key wasn't left in it, as we still had the only key for it.
    Or so we thought...

    I then remembered my experience with motorcycles in the late 70's early 80's.

    The 78 Yamaha 400 Special only had 5 or 6 keys made for it.

    It was a trivial matter to wander around with your own key until you found a matching lock.

    With the exception of the uber secure electronic keys, the same is still true to an extent.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @01:34PM (#28732237)

    Uhm, I don't know where you live but I've been an expert witness in a trial for exactly what you're talking about. It did NOT work like you've imagined. Instead, it went like this:

    Prosecutor: You own this hardware and are responsible for it. Someone was pumping kiddie porn through it. It doesn't matter if you knew that, or if you were involved, or what - you are responsible. If you can find the kiddie porn criminal you can try to sue them, but right now you are now going to have your life permanently ruined.

    Jury: Sounds reasonable to us. The law is quite clear, you are responsible regardless of what you knew. A person who accidentally commits a crime is still guilty.

    Judge: The penalty is that for the rest of your life, everywhere you go, everyone who lives within a certain radius of you will be informed that you are a sexual predator convicted in a child abuse case. Have fun dodging the lynch mobs, and don't bother calling the cops if you have a problem.

    Me: I can prove that the cops mishandled the evidence and that it is no longer possible to tell what really happened. Maybe the cops are the pornographers - I can cast reasonable doubt.

    Lawyer for the defense: neener neener neener!

    Judge: OK, throw out the bad evidence.

    Jury: Insufficient evidence to convict.

    Lawyer for the defense: NEENER NEENER NEENER!

    Prosecutor: Dammit, when I get you cops alone you'll pay for this bungling!

    Me: Thanks for the $15,000 up front, have a nice day.

    Defendant: It was worth it. Thank god I'm richer than Croesus, a poor person would have been totally fucked.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"