The Daily Ping

Somehow, Ryan has written over 1 million Pings; Paul, just 60.

July 10th, 2005

You Stole My WiFi!

Earlier this week news came out that a guy in Florida was arrested for using another guy’s open WiFi network.

I’m of the mindset that WiFi is something that should be free and open, but on the other hand, my network doesn’t broadcast its name everywhere and is behind a password. I think part of it is simply because there are already five other networks that I can access from our office, including on occasion the one at Caribou Coffee downstairs. But I’m also a little hesitant because, well, what if someone really does download kiddie porn via my open network? Then SBC’s coming after me, and that’s really not very pleasant.

I know that’s an extreme conclusion, and it’s one that is often used when talking about sharing WiFi. But it still leaves me a little uncomfortable. The worst part about the whole arrest situation is that it could have been solved by the network’s owner just locking the thing down. In my opinion, if he didn’t know how to do it then he should still be held liable. If he pleads total ignorance, that’s one thing. But come on. It’s like putting a drinking fountain out in front of your house and then getting angry when people walking by stop to use it.

But ultimately, getting arrested for using another WiFi network seems extreme. In the meantime, people are still confusing “loose” for “lose” on the web – and they get off scott-free.

Posted in Technology

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Sunday July 10, 2005 -- 1:38:49 pm
I don't know, Paul, while I'm with you on the extreme nature of arresting someone for stealing another's WiFi, it is a sin against the Ninth Commandment, which states "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's WiFi," or something.



FROM: dave
DATE: Sunday July 10, 2005 -- 2:12:03 pm
Joseph, if the Commandments were truly enforced, the world would be a very different place.



FROM: CrOaKeR
DATE: Sunday July 10, 2005 -- 2:22:47 pm
Its the point that comes up time and time again. The people who make these laws do not understand the technology enough. Its a hard to come up with a solution to the problem, but arresting people is extreme. In some ways its like saying if i can hack in to your computer network, its your fault for being lax on security, but should the hacker take all the blame? Sorry for ranting, its one of those days......



FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday July 10, 2005 -- 2:48:24 pm
Ignorance of how to set up your wireless network is a tricky thing. I mean, a company selling routers that come with 400pg manuals you have to read before you can install the thing just aren't going to sell. These are being sold as "plug it in and it magically works". The vendors are pushing technology that is beyond most people's abilities.

Even though I have been a computer professional for over fifteen years, I'm not completely sure about mine. When I first got it, I immediately changed the admin password and the default subnet and turned off the wireless bit (since I do not have any devices that can use it). But if I turned it on... sure, you can tune it to only accept certain MAC addresses. But it's hard.

And even if you encrypt things, it's not hard to break the encryption:

http://www.tomsnetworking.com/Sections-print-article111.php

Honestly, I would not mind letting other people use my connection so long as it does not impact my bandwidth. 2am, I'm not using it, go ahead. When I'm just surfing around, probably 95% of the potential bandwidth goes unused. But when I'm checking out song clips from Amazon to decide if I want to buy an album, I'd better get that full 120K/sec!

And note that they are not prosecuting the person whose bandwidth was stolen.

I would worry more about the fact that if they're using your wireless, then they are inside your local network. There's a reason you have routers for private networks: to keep other people out. In theory they can spy on all your packets, see your file shares, etc. That's the scary part.



FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday July 10, 2005 -- 3:52:29 pm
The paper actually stated that the guy "hacked" into the network. How exactly do you hack into an open and publicly accessible wifi signal?

I filter MAC addresses on mine.

However, when I was getting wifi running on Linux last week I got frustrated when it stopped working after a reboot. 20 minutes later, I realized I was trying to log into my neighbors router. Oops.



FROM: Joseph
DATE: Sunday July 10, 2005 -- 6:11:59 pm
The question really is, "what is the proper method of enforcement?" The ten commandments are enforced in all kinds of different ways depending on where you happen to be at the time of breaking one, how you happen to break one, and, of course, who you are when you break one, not to mention what your intention was at the time of breaking one. This is why it's all so complicated.

By the way, the Ping is timely yet again. Why, just yesterday I was attempting to hook up our first WiFi system in the house. I found out that the SBC Yahoo salesperson didn't send us the right stuff, so I'm still tethered to the wall. Hooray! I love incompetent sales people! If they can't get the technology right, how is the average jerk like me supposed to know what's going on?



FROM: Joseph
DATE: Sunday July 10, 2005 -- 6:12:52 pm
The question really is, "what is the proper method of enforcement?" The ten commandments are enforced in all kinds of different ways depending on where you happen to be at the time of breaking one, how you happen to break one, and, of course, who you are when you break one, not to mention what your intention was at the time of breaking one. This is why it's all so complicated.

By the way, the Ping is timely yet again. Why, just yesterday I was attempting to hook up our first WiFi system in the house. I found out that the SBC Yahoo salesperson didn't send us the right stuff, so I'm still tethered to the wall. Hooray! I love incompetent sales people! If they can't get the technology right, how is the average jerk like me supposed to know what's going on?



FROM: Joseph
DATE: Sunday July 10, 2005 -- 6:14:30 pm
And now I double Pinged! I swear I didn't do that to underscore the point. My computer froze up for a second and gave me an error message that stated that the request to contact www.dailyping.com timed out. So, I sent it again. I could be arrested for this?



FROM: Paul
DATE: Sunday July 10, 2005 -- 8:24:40 pm
Joseph: yes.



FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Wednesday July 13, 2005 -- 3:55:07 pm
Chris: well, there's a tiny bit of knowhow in terms of "hacking" into the network itself.. detecting it, getting your antenna pointed the right way, figuring out the correct subnet. But that's not the challenge. The encryption was.

Well, the encryption was supposed to be a challenge, at least...



FROM: Joseph
DATE: Wednesday July 13, 2005 -- 10:29:03 pm
Interesting tidbit: if I bring my wireless laptop to an internet cafe to use their network but end up accidentally logging on to another's this could be a problem.
Why did I think of this? Went to an internet cafe and found that there were at least six networks I could hook in to. Do I know whose they are? No. Would I, as a non-computer savvy person assume that they all belonged to the cafe? Probably.
Okay assuming that I think better of it, six is too many. How do I know which one is the cafes? I'm not that much of a geek to know how to figure that out. All I know is, I turn my computer on and there's the net up and running for me.



FROM: Paul
DATE: Thursday July 14, 2005 -- 9:41:00 am
How do I know which one is the cafes?

Good point. The only caveat is that Panera's WiFi networks have always been named "Panera" - at least in my experience in a few locations. That'd make it easy to tell.

But lots of people have networks with their routers' names, like "Linksys." And if I didn't know about routers, I wouldn't know what a Linksys is.



Joseph March 2, 2009, 7:29 pm

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