I know several people that have taken advantage of the fact that at least one of their neighbors has an unsecured Wireless Access Point connected to a broadband Internet connection. I often mention that they are technically stealing bandwidth by doing this, but that usually only generates a laugh and a shrug. Well, today I read a story that I hope will serve as a cautionary tale for anyone out there that is stealing bandwidth from a neighbor. A Florida man was arrested in April for stealing bandwidth from a home Wi-Fi network.
Interestingly, a Gartner analyst interviewed for this story placed the blame for the incident on the guy who didn't lock down his WLAN. I agree that the guy -- and a lot of other folks that have unsecured WLANs -- need to take respsonsibility for learning to secure their networks if they are going to run wireless. However, I am appalled by the argument of the Gartner analyst. It's the same thing as saying that if a person leaves their front door unlocked, then they deserve to get robbed and we shouldn't place any blame on the robber. That's an ethically-bankrupt argument and I certainly would not want to live in a society that has that kind of mindset. A person who knowingly and willfully steals something deserves to be punished according to the full extent of the law -- and that includes you, if you're stealing bandwidth.
Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.