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Wardriving - Legal or not?

By jdclyde ·
Has the law caught up with Technology yet?

In a recent discussion telling dumb user stories, I had a handful of members jump me because I had used someones WiFi connection for a few days for email and a quick TR fix.

Some claimed anyone doing this is a thief, while others tried to make it a moral issue of ethics.

I did a search, and found nothing specifically stating this is illegal although I did find two cases in process right now. One in the UK and one in the US.

http://news.com.com/FAQ+Wi-Fi+mooching+and+the+law/2100-7351_3-5778822.html?tag=nl.caro
http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/08/08/HNwifi_1.html

Wording stating unauthorized access to a computer or a network was as close as I could come to an actual law.

I think most people that do this (myself included) would not if it was clear that there actually is a law against it. How close do you think we are to that?

If it not against the law, how can anyone claim it is unethical? Based on what? The person that left their open access point is missing what at the end of the day? They have been harmed in no way and nothing has been taken from them.

And I am not talking about some clown that is hacking, or sucking up massive amounts of bandwidth so please don't waste anyones time with that angle.

I guess I would also not include a home user that doesn't have their own connection and goes off a neighbor full time.

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whooops!

by gadgetgirl In reply to Wardriving - Legal or not ...

The infoworld link needs membership....

If you can tell me which Act is referred to in the UK case, I can check it out for you.

GG

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Legal or not? not really the point.

by michael_orton In reply to whooops!

You shouldn't really bother about legalaties.
The realpoint is if you can wardrive successfully, so can others with malicious intent.
Its just like leaving your keys in the new Jaguar, in a public carpark.
If there is a way into a system, someone will use it, legal or not.
There are no (effective) policemen on the Information Superhighway!

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But this doesn't help

by jdclyde In reply to Legal or not? not really ...

joe-user with their home network and open access point.

They probably had heard from someone that they needed a router to secure their home network and got this, not realizing they locked the door but then installed a dog access that a rat could come in.

If these home users AND MANY business users don't take care of their systems, what can be done about it?

It only leaves the question, if you will use some of their bandwidth too. Hopefully with all the trojans and spyware on their systems, there will be some bandwidth left over to use!

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End user education may help

by Zengeek In reply to But this doesn't help

Leaving the door open for hackers to get in is not something anyone wants to do. Unfortunately, most home users are not aware of the need for some basic security precautions and probably won't care till it's too late. The need to be educate them is obvious, but who will do it? The big electronics stores are more interested in selling their wares than telling consumers how to install and configure their equipment. And how many home users do you know actually read their manuals? So that leaves us techies to educate our friends and families...

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Why not help them out?

by smee63 In reply to End user education may he ...

I have always been one to think that people should be accountable for their actions. Whether or not this is legal? Doesn't look like it's illegal to me. But since jdclyde did use their bandwidth and it helped him in his time of need, why can't he contact these people and tell them of their potential for a hacker to have a field day and give them a few tips on how to secure their network? If they decide to leave it open after that is their choice.

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Yeah,

by TonytheTiger In reply to Why not help them out?

Maybe he can just do a net send :)

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Don't assume

by TonytheTiger In reply to But this doesn't help

that Joe User doesn't know that he left his door unlocked.

I knowingly left mine unsecured (so if you're ever in the neighborhood, please feel free), and in the last year or so I've had 6 different people (or at least 6 different MAC addresses) hit it, at least for a few minutes (only one of these people is known to me). The house we just bought is right across the street from a small park (it's cool to have a big front yard that someone else mows :)) and my wireless covers almost half of it. I see people working with their laptops while eating lunch, etc, and I assume they found it quite by accident (I have found one that way while using my PDA at work).

Do I care? Well, if they were using up all of my bandwidth I might, but until that would happen, I'm not going to change anything. I prefer to secure the computer itself (yes, I know, computers can be broken into, but then so can your typical home router).

(added)

also don't think it's an ISP issue. They are getting paid for (in my case) 768k down and 256k up. What percentage of that is used by me and what percentage by someone else is not really their concern, as long as I am not selling it. From their perspective, someone connecting through my network to check their email is no different than them knocking on my door and sitting down at my computer to check their email.

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Driving a Jaguar

by fvrba In reply to Legal or not? not really ...

This seems like a good analogy.

If you leave the keys in the Jag and it's unlocked, is it legal to take it for a spin? Or maybe the question is, is it illegal? I'm not saying it's a smart thing to do, leaving the keys in the car, and no one I know would do it intentionally. Kind of like not knowing or realizing their wireless access point is open to the outside. You do loose some fuel unless the joy rider puts gas back in for you.

So maybe the problem hinges on the value of the asset that's being used. Without a specific law covering it, it seems it all boils down to what an individual perceives as being OK. Personnally, I'm against using other people assets without them knowing.

On that note, jdclyde, let me know your address so when I'm in the area I don't need to find an R/V park. I'll put my motorhome in your yard and, oh yeh, when the garage door opens I'll borrow some tools because I want to build a picnic table. I won't be done before lunch though so I'll be using your grill and patio. I'll use my own propane though because I don't want to cost you anything.

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Analogies

by Zeppo9191 In reply to Driving a Jaguar

If I invite someone to park their RV on my driveway, I would expect that they might be using/borrowing a few things (without explicit permission) that I own. This would include, but not be limited to, my patio, b-b-que, picnic table, bathroom, livingroom couch, television, etc., etc., etc.

However, if you're an uninvited guest who started using these things, this would be considered criminal trespass, because you physically entered my property.

Since someone who taps into my open WAP isn't performing physical trespass to complete the task, it doesn't fit under the legal definition of criminal trespass, and your analogy doesn't quite work.

The question posed by jdclyde is whether it's legal. Too many people are approaching the morals of the issue.

In the first discussion mentioned by jdclyde (the one centered on funny users), I placed a post stating that the moral argument may never be resolved, irrelevant of whether laws are enacted addressing this topic. Everybody's morals are different, and each believes theirs to be correct; otherwise, they wouldn't follow them.

To address your initial question, jdclyde, I don't know of any laws that have been used to successfully prosecute someone for using an open WAP for the sole purpose of accessing the public Internet.

Of course, there have been several cases that were returned with guilty verdicts where someone used open WAPs to do other (esp. malicious) things, but that wasn't how your question was presented.

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jdclyde asked If not against the law, how can anyone claim it is unethical?

by rajanke In reply to Analogies

To quote http://home.flash.net/~bob001/basics.htm

Ethics Explains What's Good and Bad

Ethics is the science that explains the valuing process. It provides a theory for explaining why conduct is considered good or bad. It attempts to answer the questions "Why is this good?" and "Why is that bad?"
. . .

Ethics explains why you believe something is right or wrong.

Ethical theories are the reasons we give for judging one action good and another action bad. These theories are the ultimate reasons we give in answer to the question "Why ought you to do this?"

This does not mean that by knowing about ethics you will make proper moral choices. All it means is that you will be better able to explain why you make the choices you do.
. . .
Moral Absolutism

Right is right and wrong is wrong.

Actions are inherently good or bad, regardless of the consequences.

. . . You may not agree with everything the government does, but cheating on your income taxes is wrong.


. . .

Ethical Relativism

Circumstances alter cases. Everyday standards are good, but exceptions are also right and good. The judgment of good or bad is based upon the result or consequence of the act rather than the act itself. An action is right if it tends to produce the greatest good for the greatest number.

Ethical relativism claims that when two individuals or two cultures disagree on their moral views of an act, both can be right.

. . . "Cheating on your income tax is OK as long as you don't get caught."


So, does jdclyde's NEIGHBOR think it is unethical?

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