General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2292521

    connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?


    by ned rhinelander (cnet) ·

    I came in today to my job at CNet Network’s Cambridge office, and had to wait in the lobby for a fire alarm to clear.

    I pulled out my laptop and decided to see if there were any available networks…turns out there were 10, 3 or 4 of which were not secured. So, I proceded to IM with my colleage Steven upstairs. Before long Steven asked me “so you don’t have any qualms about hijacking a wireless connection?”

    When I setup a wireless access point, I consciously assume that if I set it to broadcast the SSID and disable security it’s tantamount to offering a public service.

    However, Steven’s question threw me for a loop, because I think he has a point as well…no one gave me permission to connect to the access point. Just because my computer connects automatically doesn’t necessarily make it right.

    Any thoughts out there on the legalities or general ettiquitte of this?

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3327905

      Maybe, Maybe Not

      by cactus pete ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      You were in the lobby… There is a fairly reasonable expectation that any hotspot you found was meant for visiting vendors and clients to use, and it was unlocked fro a reason.

      However, you probably could have been able to tell that from the SSID.

      You’re an adult – you should be able to tell if you’re hijacking or not.

      Of course, if you’re not sure, then you probably are.

      And if you really wanted to be a good citizen, you’d let the owner of the device know what’s happening – they may have missed one while setting up the wireless network. Something like that isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s also a great networking tool.

      • #3327889


        by jdmercha ·

        In reply to Maybe, Maybe Not

        I agree.

        I’m no attorney but I think from a legal standpoint (in the US at least) the frequency spectrum used by wireless networks is an unlicensed public spectrum. Meaniing anyone can broadcast or receive signals on that spectrum as long as such activities do not interfere with other devices nearby. Devices using that spectrum are limited to a maximum signal strength.

      • #3322709

        Is it really a delemma?

        by dmouzakis ·

        In reply to Maybe, Maybe Not

        What if you found an RJ45 plug near your seat in the lobby? What if a patch cord was attached to it? What I want to say is that applying technology is also about responsibility. Everyone who sets up a wireless network must deal with security. For the same reason that you would never install an RJ45 plug outside your company?s building. Let?s face it. We are not living in an ideal world. The moral dilemma in our times is not about using the resources, but about the use of them.

        • #3322662

          Not a valid analogy

          by kobrak1 ·

          In reply to Is it really a delemma?

          No one would assume that an RJ45 connection is set up for all to use freely. However, wireless hotspots have been routinely set up for public use.

        • #3323562

          Maybe it is a valid analogy

          by geoffnathan ·

          In reply to Not a valid analogy

          Actually, at many universities there are open RJ-45 jacks in public places (libraries, coffee shops run by the campus) and we do indeed invite students and faculty to sit down and plug in. But, on the other hand, we normally require authentication with Bluesocket.

        • #3324790


          by christopher.seward ·

          In reply to Maybe it is a valid analogy

          I thnk there is a difference between what to expect at a university over what to expect in a hotel lobby, but I see the point that there may be places where to mentality of thinking it’s OK to just plug in. Point taken.

        • #3324631

          Use don’t abuse

          by rwcarlse ·

          In reply to Difference

          I say use the hotspot if it’s a “hotspot” or not. It’s not your fault someone left it wide open for public access. With the way people set up networks nowadays you never know if they meant to leave it that way or not. I also think it depends on location. If your in a goverment building and there is an unsecureed AP it’s my guess you should tell them about it (then I hope that wouldn’t be the case). However, if you’re in a hotel lobby there’s a good chance it’s supposed to be for public access. Now if you’re using the network with Cain and Able that’s when you’ve crossed the line…Use the public access for what it is…but don’t abuse the privelege. That’s what screws the rest of us.

        • #3323940

          that’s a no-no

          by brazen1 ·

          In reply to Use don’t abuse

          So I’m thinking: If you walk past a car and notice the owner left the keys in it, do you automatically assume they left it for public use? Likewise if someone leaves the door to their house unlocked when they are not there, does that mean you are free to go on in and roam around?

        • #3323933

          Couple of issues

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Use don’t abuse

          Most of the rest of thesee posts below correct you before you made the statement, but I suppose you haven’t read that far. What I take issue [in addition] with is:

          “It’s not your fault someone left it wide open for public access.”

          It’s not my fault you have no fence around your front yard, think I’ll dig for worms…

          Those worms must be there for public access.

        • #3322130

          Damage / Theft

          by rojackson ·

          In reply to Use don’t abuse

          The analogies don’t hold. Stealing a car means you take someone’s property and that they cannot use it. Digging for worms means you cause damage to someone’s lawn. The gentleman did no damage, didn’t crash the network, didn’t look for servers, maybe used a few K of bandwidth for IM in a public area.

          We live in a society where hotspots and ubiquitous access are coming and here in many places. Caveat Installer!

        • #3343028

          The analogies

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Use don’t abuse

          Fine, let’s make the analogies hold:

          You replace the divots, you return the car after its use. Now?

        • #3324892

          It would be the same as

          by stevebuck ·

          In reply to Not a valid analogy

          Agreed, it is not a good analogy. It would be the same as connecting your notebook’s AC adapter to any available AC outlet to charge up your battery. Is the outlet there for the floor waxer or is it there to freely use to charge your battery? I’ve seen it in every airport I go to also, someone stretched out on the floor typing away with their AC cord plugged in the wall where ever there is an available AC socket. If that’s not stealing, I don’t know what is. So, connecting to an RJ-45 port or an AC power receptacle cannot be assumed to be free. Tapping into a wireless network and cracking a WEP key is also a no-no. But if I’m in a public area and there is a free AP connection I’ll use it just like the water fountain.

        • #3324814

          RJ-45 is Different

          by bigaldepr ·

          In reply to It would be the same as

          When radio was first invented, the question arose about the rights and ownership of the airwaves. You are free to receive any signal, and as far as the FCC is concerned you are granted the right to transmit within the certain frequency and power limits. There is no expectation of privacy associated with radio transmitions.

          With a RJ-45 connection, to me this like a waste basket or water fountain. If it located in a public place where there is no expectation of privacy and there is no notice posted that its use is restricted, then it would be consider to be for public use. Connecting inside an office on the otherhand would be like looking through someone file cabinets. Privacy is expected.

          At a minimum the system manager should provide notification at the time a connection is made that this a private resource and its use is restricted. This is the equivalent to a No Trespassing sign advising you that the owner of the resource considers it private.

          Likewise the use of such a resource should not be considered private either. It would be expected that if you used such a resource, the provider could view or copy any files it found. It would be your responsibility to protect sensitive information on your computer. Most coporate policies provide no expectation of privacy even to the employees.

        • #3324784


          by christopher.seward ·

          In reply to RJ-45 is Different

          I agree with this to an extent, but I can give a personal example of a need for an RJ45 connection in a public area, but not for public use. Many business clients of mine have RJ45 jacks in their waiting rooms, lobbies, etc. This includes private businesses aa well as hotels, and even restaurants. I set these jacks up so that my clients could set up a PC to display information such as which room a particular meeting is in, or welcome to visitors, etc. These are not intended for public use.

        • #3324672

          disconnect when not in use…

          by technicallyright ·

          In reply to But…

          To alieviate any unwarranted access or attempts to access I have always tried to disconnect inactive jacks when not in use. Especially in public places or meeting rooms. Is this practical? I think so, just make it part of a process. When someone schedules a meeting room or A/V equipment for such a display, have the jack activated for the required time period.

          It seems like a lot of extra work but it secures your network in many ways.

          As for the wireless hotspot…if it is intended for public use perhaps it should be posted.

          I think notifying someone of an open door would be prudent and probably appreciated. As someone else stated, it also makes for good networking.

        • #3322633

          Putting the blame the right place

          by vze2hjtw ·

          In reply to Is it really a delemma?

          I work for a communication as a field tech and were recently giving a wireless laptop and was amazed as to the amount of open access point there is out there. 1 out of 5 will be secure.
          Who do you blame, the vendor, the ISP or the customer? I will put it this way 10% to the vendor, 50% to the ISP and 40% to the customer.
          The vendor need to give more information on securing the wireless access point. The ISP must stress the important securing the access point and give instruction on doing it (I recently received a westell 327w modem/router from my ISP and there was no documentation with it after numerous call no one seem to be able to tell me how to secure the wireless access). And finally the customer need to learn the important of a secure network. Just don’t buy a wireless network because the salesperson tell you it easy to set up and no need for wires.

          Maybe if you shut down a unsecure wireless access then the person will take the time to learn about securing them (Only a suggestion)

        • #3323602

          Could get you in trouble

          by nbpqsecofr ·

          In reply to Putting the blame the right place

          Now if you shut down, or tamper with the WAP, you are hijacking the network. If you take an unsecured WAP down, then you are committing damage to the business. There is a post further down in the tree (by someone at that talks about the damages.

        • #3323510

          Ignorance of the Law is no excuse…

          by cwoolley ·

          In reply to Could get you in trouble

          As an attorney, it amazes me that there are so many people that are willing to give their opinion of whether this is legal or not, without taking even a few seconds and finding out what the law says. As I glanced through this thread, I noticed at least 10 opinions that are DEAD WRONG according to the law. There are laws that relate exactly to this situation and people have been tried and convicted for similar cases. FACT: There are laws in almost every jurisdiction that deal with this issue. IMHO it would be wise to look ’em up before you spout off what your legal opinion is.

        • #3323506

          Ignorance of the Law is no excuse…

          by caryxander ·

          In reply to Ignorance of the Law is no excuse…

          I don’t know where to look for what the law says specifically. Not everyone has the knowledge and resources you have. Help me out cwoolley. Point me in the right direction.

        • #3324931

          Actually, ignorance is a pretty good defense

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to Ignorance of the Law is no excuse…

          Have you heard of “strict liability”? It defines those torts (crimes) for which ignorance is no excuse; in fact, for which nothing is an excuse. For everything else, ignorance *is* an excuse although usually only partially. In other words, “intent” is a factor in most crimes; even serious ones — it is what changes manslaughter into murder. It is why some crimes are a misdemeanor the first time but repeated it becomes a felony; you are no longer considered ignorant if you come before the judge for the same crime. But some grandmother that gets a laptop at Christmas and inadvertently tunes in her next door neighbor’s network very likely has no idea. If they are both clueless, their workgroups are both “Workgroup” and sooner or later they’ll discover this mysterious extra drive letter and start poking around each other’s hard drives! Is it a CRIME? Duh! How can it be? If it is, the blame rests with Intel and Microsoft for putting SERVERS and radio transceivers in the homes of people that don’t know what they have.

        • #3324924

          What ignorance can get you

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Ignorance of the Law is no excuse…

          Is some leniency. That you even demonstrated in the above scenarios – and the crime was still a crime – you were just guilty of a lesser one for being ignorant.

        • #3343040

          Re: Ignorant

          by vltiii ·

          In reply to Ignorance of the Law is no excuse…

          You don’t know where to look!?!?!? The fact that you posted to this thread indicates that you have access to the internet. Try google or whatever your search engine of choice is. Try your city’s website! How do you generally look up things you don’t know about?

        • #3323439

          Giving the Correct Answer Helps Educate

          by ·

          In reply to Ignorance of the Law is no excuse…

          I have noticed in your reply that you have found quite a few persons to be incorrect in thier assumptions, and some others to be “DEAD WRONG” according to law, with thier facts. I have found it helps people, when pointing out thier mistakes to list a few of the correct answers. How about a for example…

        • #3323361

          Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          by pineapplebob ·

          In reply to Ignorance of the Law is no excuse…

          As an Architect it amazes me how many attorneys think they know architecture and are “DEAD WRONG” yet espouse their opinions in a similar fashion.

          Follow up your statement with some examples of law that specifically answer such questions and make your case.

        • #3323919

          correct me if I’m wrong, Architects

          by brenttj8 ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          don’t Architects work with copy written information, what are the implications of this?

        • #3324944

          Not a question of law

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to Ignorance of the Law is no excuse…

          The question on the table is whether it is ETHICAL. Whether it is legal won’t be decided until the Supreme Court says so one way or the other; until then it’s a bit of a gamble; although along the path to the Supreme Court is littered with expensive cases and you don’t want to be one of them.

          If all lawyers interpreted the law the same, we wouldn’t need very many lawyers.

          Still, it pays to be aware of some laws that would be candidates for being pressed into service in this as-yet fuzzy area.

          ECPA: if you intercept communications via the wireless access point, you must not divulge it (Electronic Communications Privacy Act).

          DMCA: Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Has provisions against decrypting communications.

          Various wiretapping laws could possibly be brought to bear on the issue.

          All of these that come to mind pertain to interception of communications presumed to be private. But where no expectation of privacy exists, these particular laws are not likely to be useful.

          Ethically I have very little problem with it. If I put a telephone out on the sidewalk in front of my house, passers-by may infer that I intend for it to be a public phone. I might just be an idiot of course. But it creates an “easement” or in other words not only does the public enjoy freedom from prosecution, in extreme cases you can be prevented from removing the public convenience that you have created.

          Suppose I put a telephone on the sidewalk in front of my house, with a long wire into my home. Is that a public convenience? It is impossible for passers-by to know your intentions, therefore they use the “reasonable man” theory to infer whether it is a public convenience. Since nobody puts personal phones out on the sidewalk where any passer-by can use it, we infer that any such instance must be for the public convenience. I too am not a lawyer, but guess what, lawyers do not make laws, legislatures make them and juries decide them, including nullifying a stupid law.

          Whether you SHOULD use a “found” wireless hot spot is somewhat doubtful. You’d better be using encryption ’cause you might have stumbled onto a “honeypot” sniffing YOUR communications.

        • #3323367

          Just like roaming on a GSM network

          by kzin1 ·

          In reply to Putting the blame the right place

          You travel around europe and connect to different networks.
          Some teleco’s block access to you because your home network
          doesn’t revenue share others let you connect. If a WI-FI network
          isn’t secure one can presume it is available for use. Just because
          the wireless transmitter is sub $100 doesn’t mean that you have
          to apply retard logic when configuring..

        • #3324760

          Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          by rob ·

          In reply to Putting the blame the right place

          Totally disagree with your percentages. The vendor is under NO obligation to assist the end user with securing his/her network. Network architecture rests solely at the feet of the network’s owner.

          As for the home user, the responsibility lies squarely on them as well. From a vendor’s standpoint it is a nightmare trying to walk untrained and technically unsavvy individuals through complicated and varied procedure.

          From an ISP standpoint if I, as the Service Provider, am going to shoulder the responsibility of securing your network then know I’m not leaving it up to you to do the setup and installation. I’m sending a trained technician to your location and I’m charging you for the service. Responsibility doesn’t come without cost.

          Bottom line, if you’re a techie and can handle doing the research and taking the time to understand what it is your doing then great, go for it. Otherwise, hire a professional. I don’t see people wiring their own homes for phones, cable tv, or electricity. Why should they do it with networking simply because the equipment is available for purchase?

          Just my .02 worth.

        • #3323828


          by ngl0578 ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          it should not be too difficult for a vendor to change from defaulting security settings to off, to putting in a random code and placing that code in the manual or even on a strip of paper in the box. that one step would make off the shelf access points at least minimally secure right out of the box.

          granted a wep code is not great security, but it is better to have the weak chain keeping the door closed, than not. that way, if a person/organization wants to put a free for all access point out.. they can turn off the security themselves.

        • #3343509

          Vendor installed codes

          by rob ·

          In reply to vendor

          Well, your thoughts sound good on paper but be prepared to field hundred (thousands) of calls when the thing doesn’t work right out of the box. Most end-users (in my experience) do not read documentation. They’re first course of action would be to call Tech Support and complain. Fielding calls cost money.

        • #3343640

          Opportunity Strikes

          by cdougherty ·

          In reply to Putting the blame the right place

          I’ve often scoured my neighborhood and found AP’s that were unsecured. I went home, printed up flyers with information about the dangers of operating an unsecured AP and gave my email address for anyone interested in having me come to secure their AP. I charged $25 to come in, change their SSID and set MAC lists with a key and off to the bank I went. In two weeks I made $400, not a bad take for 10 minutes worth of work. Instead of taking advantage and riding someone else’s pipeline, use your “expertise” and provide a service to those around you. My two cents.

        • #3322157

          Opportunity Strikes

          by maxpower1111 ·

          In reply to Opportunity Strikes

          No doubt your intent was honest and just.
          But, to actively seek/find and offer to fix a vulnerability, without the owner of said resource first requesting that you do so; is a direct violation of federal computer crime laws. Believe it or not it’s considered a form of extortion.

          I can?t quote the actual legal term, (part: section), but I recall reading about it here at TechRepublic. The law was put on the books after someone less upstanding than yourself, actually hacked corporate networks then offered to ?help fix their vulnerabilities?. He was busted in a sting operation in Europe, and the law was subsequently passed.

          So just be careful.

        • #3322133

          Read Carefully

          by rojackson ·

          In reply to Opportunity Strikes

          The writer said that he noticed that there were several open AP’s. He printed flyers and let people know that he could secure AP’s. He did not say that he actively entered the networks or hacked systems and then approached the owners.

          The writer’s initiative and entrepenuership should be applauded.

          You can’t help but notice an AP if it is broadcasting it’s SSID that isn’t breaking the law.

      • #3322678


        by wcp83 ·

        In reply to Maybe, Maybe Not

        You were in the lobby so it was probably meant to be, but if it was not then I think its ok because you have an administrator that is not doing his/her job. I would bring it to their attention and let them know. If that was left that wide open then just imagine what their wired network security must be like?????

      • #3322665

        It si a dilemma !

        by lipl1 ·

        In reply to Maybe, Maybe Not

        If you go out and it’s waiting for you to use I don’t feel it is truly hijacking. To me “hijacking / trespassing” is braking into a secured system and yes you should at least attempt to let the local admin know.

        • #3322656


          by ktc ·

          In reply to It si a dilemma !

          I was under the impression that “Hijacking” was ANY unauthorized use of a wireless network. As an IT consultant, I can “sniff” around to find wireless nodes and to see if they are secure or not but, once I’ve “jumped onto” an unsecure wireless network, I have broken the law.

          If you are unsure whether its a public node or not, it is your responsibility to find out if you can use it or not.

          It is up to a company to make a node secure, if they wish. But, if they want to make it secure and didn’t, that falls under the category of stupidity and negligence. I believe that from a legal standpoint, it’s not up to the company to keep you off, its up to you to stay off.

          Just because IBM and Microsoft have pretty lawns out in front of their buildings doesn’t give me the autority to spread out a blanket and have a picnic, even if there are no “no trespassing” signs.

        • #3322642

          Lawn or Park?

          by kobrak1 ·

          In reply to “Hijacking”

          Someone’s front lawn is a wired network. A park is a public wireless network. Not the same thing. No one has ever assumed that Microsoft’s front lawn was a public park to be explored by all. Yet some wireless network HAVE been set up for this exact purpose.

        • #3323515

          House, Lawn or Park?

          by rmorrison ·

          In reply to Lawn or Park?

          I disagree. Someones house is the wired network, their lawn is the wap, and the public park is the public wireless network. Just like if I forget to lock my door to my house that does not give you the right to walk in and sit at my computer and go to the net. As I read earlier, you would know if that wap was setup to be open to the public, and if your not sure guess what, it probably isn’t. I agree that it is the responsibility of every admin to make sure that the security for their network is setup tightly (both wired and wireless), but their mistake is not an invitation to “walk in the door”.

        • #3324934

          Expectation of Privacy

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to House, Lawn or Park?

          What I would like to see more, is recognition of the “expectation of privacy” that pertains in so many other areas of public/private conflict.

          In a public place, I can take your photograph and do quite a lot with it. If you are in your backyard, I can still take your photo with a telephoto lens but I am very limited in what I can do with it. If you are in your home, I cannot deliberately take your photo through your window with a telephoto lens — you have a “expectation of privacy”.

          Now then, obviously your expectation might differ from someone elses, so a sort of community standard exists; in Hollywood for instance the paparazzi have changed the expectation of privacy somewhat.

          In a rural neighborhood, lets say a small but dense concentration of single family dwellings or apartments, we can assume that people have installed WAPs for their own convenience, often to let their neighbors share an internet connection, but do not expect to have total strangers on it. They could perhaps make a case for privacy. But an office on main street whose signal covers several thousand square feet of public street and sidewalk; or the stated circumstance of an office building lobby which possesses a type of public easement, does not have that expectation of privacy and on the contrary, if the PLACE is public, or is a place of public accomodation (good way to tell is that if the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] pertains, then it is a place of public accomodation) then one can infer that wireless signals that are unencrypted are meant to be unencrypted and available.

          I don’t even want people bothering me with it. If I put a WAP in the lobby, please don’t every one that uses it come bothering me, “Oh, I found a WAP signal in the lobby! Did you know?” “Yes, thank you, I put it there. Enjoy.”

          Now then, as to discerning intention; if it is not encrypted and the SSID is not “Linksys”, then it is deliberate. If the SSID is “Linksys” and it is not encrypted, then yes you *could* be dealing with an idiot that did not mean for it to be public.

        • #3322117


          by rojackson ·

          In reply to Expectation of Privacy

          Well put…nuff said

        • #3323532


          by foulere ·

          In reply to “Hijacking”

          What you say may be true by conventional standards, but in my opinion it is bordering on fascism. I believe that it is primarily the consumer’s responsibility to secure their wap if they so desire. If someone hacks into at that point it is hijacking. If you haven’t secured it, you must expect that anyone may be using it and either be fine with that, or secure it.

        • #3324938

          Bad analogy

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to “Hijacking”

          Good reasoning; bad analogy. The lawns of IBM and Microsoft enjoy certain “expectations” that are widely recognized and yet not ironbound. I speak of “easements” whereby the public has certain rights of passage. The postman, for instance, has a right to come to your house and deliver mail; it is not trespass.

          Since wireless access points are a new technology for which no precise analogy exists, applicable laws will be bent from other purposes; sometimes in favor of a public view, sometimes in favor of a private view.

          It certainly arouses my curiosity. From a radio standpoint, you are perfectly free to intercept the signal and both points are using unlicensed frequencies. Not only is it unlicensed, but it is non-exclusive; meaning you have as much right to it as anyone else (I’m not a lawyer, but I *am* a FCC licensed radio engineer). So there’s simply not an issue with regard to the radio itself. The person that hooks up a transmitter to his network is acting no differently than a person that puts a loudspeaker in a public area for all to hear. If you hear it, that is an unavoidable consequence of the publisher of the media doing so in a public manner and in a public place. So, he is “broadcasting” and you are entitled to receive broadcasts. Some effort was made to limit this with regard to cellphones; for a while scanners were not permitted to tune those frequencies but I think that’s been dropped as an issue, an abridgement of your freedoms. Now then, suppose someone puts up a microphone where it hears the emissions of people in that public area. Must they all shut up so as not to imping on his microphone? That’s just stupid. So any reception of the public by a microphone placed where the public can speak to it, is not protected. The fact that what he picks up on his microphone he carries at his expense to some distant point is not material to the fact that he placed public broadcasting and listening equipment where the public can, and probably will utilize it.

          I too would like to see this case law. I consider defective any law that treats wireless access points special with regard to public broadcasting and listening stations.

          Of course, certain laws pertain to the communications you may gather. If the communications are encrypted, the the DCMA can be brought to bear; and also the ECPA. But if the communications are not encrypted, it is a BROADCAST and can be published, just as the USENET newsgroups can be published, because they ALREADY ARE PUBLISHED.

        • #3324780

          Ah…my point exactly

          by christopher.seward ·

          In reply to Bad analogy

          The postman is not a John Doe walking down the street. He is authorized to be there. An easement is granted for a specific purpose(s). Therein lies the difference. Easements are not applied to entire grounds, there are clearly laid out in scope and purpose, and area.

        • #3322119


          by rojackson ·

          In reply to “Hijacking”

          Really, what law have you broken by entering a network? have you accessed computers, have you tried to steal corporate data? Have you stolen copyrighted material? Are you sniffing traffic, stealing passwords? NO, NO, NO.

          If I HIJACK a network…ain’t no one else gonna get to use it, but if someone is gracious enough to share their network then they have proven that they “get it.”

        • #3347607

          Hijacking Illegal?

          by neil cotton ·

          In reply to “Hijacking”

          –Quote– KTC
          “once I’ve “jumped onto” an unsecure wireless network, I have broken the law.”

          This isn’t actually illegal. These is nothing in the data protection act or computer missuse act that says it is actually a criminal act to stumble onto a unsecured wireless network. The DPA and CMA DO define that it is illegal to gain unauthorised access, but their definition of UNAUTHORISED is actually the breaking of, or attempt to break passwords or encryption.

          As there have been no tried cases in regard to this, no jury or court has passed judgement on the unauthorised access with no maliscious intent so it can not be deemed “illegal”.

          The argument is that it would be unethical. However the line has to be defined between what is construed as “getting in” and “just somehow being in”.

          Roaming scan with built in WiFi cards means that you could be using someone elses unsecure connection and not know the blind bit of difference. What if you set up a WiFi system in your house, however so has the guy next door. And you happen to be getting a stronger signal from one of his APs and you are end up using his network, unintentional – yes, unethical – no, missuse – no, unauthorised – yes.

        • #3323552

          It shouldn’t be a dilemma

          by caryxander ·

          In reply to It si a dilemma !

          I agree, it would be a courtesy to let the admin know that there is unsecured wireless access in the lobby. But if it’s truly publicly available, wouldn’t it be in the company/admin’s best interest to advertise that plainly via a sign in the lobby? Also, have you never noticed that admins sometimes tend to have a god-complex? I’ve encountered a “who do you think I am, insulting my intelligence” kind of attitude when trying to offer input…

        • #3323492

          How to let them know…

          by eramos ·

          In reply to It shouldn’t be a dilemma

          To avoid the “who do you think I am, insulting my intelligence” attitude, try going to them to thank them for providing wifi in the lobby as a service to visitors.

          If it was intentional they’ll say thanks, if it wasn’t, they shouldn’t feel you thought them negligent.

        • #3324762

          Post a sign

          by montgomery gator ·

          In reply to How to let them know…

          If it is intentional, companies could post a sign along the lines of “WLAN Provided as a Public Service”. That would get the business some good will from your visitors, and avoid the need for conscientious visitors to make comments.

        • #3322115

          No Sign Needed

          by rojackson ·

          In reply to Post a sign

          There is already a convention in place that allows the proprietor of a WAP to strictly communicate his/her underlying intentions. “[]” in the name means this is a closed WAP please don’t come in (or try). “][” in the name means I know that you can see my WAP and you are welcome to use it, just don’t abuse it.

          If we all would use this convention then we could look at a list of WAPs in a public area and know if there were any that were open on purpose!

          Of course there is the problem of all the “Linksys” WAPs.


      • #3322636

        If I set some chairs out on the sidewalk…

        by dcperich ·

        In reply to Maybe, Maybe Not

        If I set some chairs out in front of my house, can anyone walking down the street leagaly sit in one? Its the same question.
        Unless there is a law that defines who can sit where, its just a matter of opinion.
        If it is illegal to connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi, I would think signs (physical or digital) would have to be posted warning potential users not to use that connection. How else is one to determine which connections are private and which are public?

        • #3322630

          If I set some chairs out on the sidewalk…

          by hnhmailbox-tr ·

          In reply to If I set some chairs out on the sidewalk…

          If I set my own chairs in the building lobby (a common area) then clearly anyone can sit in them.

          Hijacking suggests that one has taken something for their own exclusive use. What was actually done was to piggyback on the open network. If a butterfly lands on your shoulder then it gets a free ride without impairing your ability to walk. If a user is using IM for simple communication, it is unlikely that the WLAN will be bogged down. Certainly a large download would be another story.

          I also don’t see a practical way to identify the physical location of the open WLAN. If there are four unsecured nets in a large office building, how do you know to whom to report the unsecured net?

        • #3323603

          How about…

          by placidair ·

          In reply to If I set some chairs out on the sidewalk…

          unless you see a sign posted telling you it’s public, assume it isn’t. I’ve seen plenty of such signs.

        • #3323599

          Analogy needs refinement

          by bmcombrw ·

          In reply to If I set some chairs out on the sidewalk…

          If I set some chairs out in front of my house – within the boundaries of my lot, which defines my property – no one has the legal right to take or use those chairs without my permission. If I set out another chair on the public sidewalk, outside the boundaries of my lot, anyone has the legal right to assume I don’t want that chair anymore and they can take it or use it. Even though it would be common courtesy to knock on my door and ask if I meant to leave this chair out in the public domain, I could not have someone who merely took it away arrested for theft. I routinely put old furniture and such out to the curb in front of my house, to be removed as rubbish, and sometimes people like what they see and cart it off for themselves. If those items were on my lawn instead, I would be outraged if those people carted them away – and legally entitled to have law enforcement on their tails.

          If you don’t want to bother knowing where your lot ends and public property begins, to actively ensure that you place your chairs on your property, then you can tie the chairs to your house with long chains.

        • #3323563

          and then some

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Analogy needs refinement

          But let’s say that tomorrow there is a parade in front of your house. You put out the lawn furniture at the sidewalk to reserve you rightful place in front of your own home.

          I’m from out of town, and don’t know about the parade, and you’re the first person to have put out the chairs… At the moment, you’re just on your way back to the house for more stuff to put out, and I can’t see you.

          So I take these very nice looking chairs – practically brand new!

          But you wouldn’t blame me, would you, even if you saw me driving away with your next load of chairs… I found them where they don’t belong…

          So the analogy doesn’t quite hold. If you don’t have any strong evidence that it is likely to be free, you shouldn’t take it.

        • #3324927

          Who owns title to the street?

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to and then some

          Preserve you rightful place in front of your own home? Sir, that is not your rightful place. Every city I have lived in, the street is city property and so is the sidewalk. If you put chairs out overnight, you have abandonded them, you have no rights to them. If you put chairs out and run to get a soda, you have not abandoned them but you’d be not very smart not to have someone there to mind the chairs and keep your claim valid.

          Suppose you come back from your soda and find some men sitting in your chairs. You become angry and shout out to the police, saying, “These men are in my chairs!” and the police comes, says to the men, “Are these your chairs?” If they say yes, the policeman is probably going to lose interest — the fact that the chairs are on city property in front of your house means very little; those chairs could belong to ANYONE and be placed in front of your house so long as they are on public property, namely the sidewalk or street.

          So to drag this back (if we can) to wireless access points; if your signal TRESPASSES onto city property, I don’t see what rights you still have to that signal.

        • #3324904

          Good grief

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Who owns title to the street?

          Sir or Madam-

          Please look up the word facetiousness.

          The reference towards “rightful place” in front of one’s home was said with such an air.

        • #3324901

          I love your animated avatar!

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to Good grief

          Very cool avatar.

          Anyway, I was hoping that the responses would discuss the various theories of trespass, public accomodation, radio broadcasting vs computer intrusion — various ways in which various existing laws might attempt to be brought to bear for or against strangers accessing WAPs in various ways and places.

          These theories will eventuall distill into a consensus of some kind which will eventually be legislated into law. Our opinions DO matter, although not by a lot.

        • #3324758

          Speaking of Avatars…

          by montgomery gator ·

          In reply to Good grief

          ..Is that animated Avatar from “Office Space”? Hard to tell with the resolution, but it looks like the scene where they destroyed the printer they hated so much.

        • #3324757


          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Good grief

          It is

        • #3324899

          OK then

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Who owns title to the street?

          First, your signal doesn’t trespass – the FCC has declared it OK already.

          Next, no, I have no recourse over you having listened to my broadcast signal. But technically, if you then begin the two-way conversation with that signal and begin to use my infrastructure, you have violated the law. You are no longer passively listening to the broadcast, but are now actively using my resources without permission.

        • #3324895

          Getting closer to mutual understanding.

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to OK then

          What if you have put the microphone to your equipment out where the public, enjoying their rights to “speak” (first amendment) in a place where such speech is permitted, “inadvertently” intrude upon your microphone (the input half of your WAP). Is that breaking the law? You have made it impossible or difficult not to intrude. People must have a SAFE HARBOR, some way of obeying the law.

          Your desire not to be the common carrier for their speech is irrelevant IF you put your microphone in a public place. If KSL television sends out a reporter and he sets his microphone down, live on the street, do you think anyone can be prosecuted for speaking into it? They have stolen nothing; they are not even touching the microphone. They merely speak, and what they say is carried to a million homes (well that might be too many for KSL). Have they broken the law? No. Did they know they ought not to be doing so? Bet on it! The fault is one hundred percent on KSL to not let that happen, and they take precautions — first they don’t let the public very close to their input equipment. Second, they time-delay everything to bleep out any words spoken by passers-by that they don’t want to publish.

          I have both commercial and amateur radio licenses. That undoubtedly colors my opinions somewhat. But I have strict liability on what gets “published” by my radio equipment, I am responsible. If I let my kids talk on my radio, that is legal but I am responsible for the outcome — *I* own the radio, therefore I am responsible for its operation.

          WAP’s are radios; the owners of WAPs are responsible for their operation. A WAP is a bridge between wireless radio communications, laws and theories, and wired communications, laws and theories. Which pertains? If I ever sit on a jury; only one thing pertains — the WAP itself and the responsibility its owner has to use it correctly. The public cannot know what is on the other side of a WAP; it might not be the “public internet” at all (not that there is any such entity called “public internet” of course). The burden cannot be upon a person who has no way to find out. Even in Wisconsin, it is possible to find out whether land is private. But WAP’s? HOW do you find out? You cannot.

        • #3324894

          Getting closer to mutual understanding.

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to OK then

          oops duplicate

        • #3324782

          Doesn’t apply

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to OK then

          It is not a question of YOU broadcasting on my AP, arther YOu accessing a network to which you have no explicit authorization.

        • #3323524

          Still theft no matter where you leave the chairs

          by jeremys ·

          In reply to Analogy needs refinement

          It is still theft, no matter where you leave you chair(s). Just like your car, even when it is on the other side of the city, it is still your property.

          I still think hijacking implies a malicious act. There is a difference between sitting in their lobby talking to a friend on MSN and parked in an alley behind the company downloading DVDs. Personally I think it has more to do with intent.

        • #3323450

          Who decides intent?

          by tradergeorge ·

          In reply to Still theft no matter where you leave the chairs

          In general, I agree with your philosophy on theft. But who decides where to draw the line? You say it is okay to IM or email, but not okay to download DVDs. That is kind of like saying that it is okay to steal $100 but not $1 mil……..The line will differ with different people.

          I do not think you would appreciate 1000 people all instant messaging on your network when you are trying to download, but by your philosophy, none of them individually would be doing anything wrong.

          The best way to test a theory is to carry it to its worst case scenario and see if the premise is still valid. Here you can see, it is not.

        • #3324898

          Let us consider taxation as an analogy

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to Who decides intent?

          It is not always effective to use the approach you have used. You must be libertarian and academic, as am I, since it is a very good argument that tends to be useless in real life.

          Here’s the scenario: I cannot rightly take a dollar from you against your will and the greater the sum the greater the wrong. But, suppose I and my neighbor conspire to take your money. Is it right? No. How about the whole neighborhood. We decide to take your money; maybe even disguise the act by kicking in some of our own. Is it right? No; it will be some form of extortion or stealing. A thousand people? Million? At what point does it suddenly become RIGHT? The answer can only be that there is no point, no magical number; and yet, we pay taxes, unwillingly for most of us, since doing so is preferable to the sheriff coming and taking our property at gunpoint. That happens because of “eminent domain” a philosophy that itself suffers from the same flawed logic as taxation. But the government does it because it CAN, and it is necessary, and we have some theories about “social contract” that you subscribed to when you were born even though it was the ONLY contract you can subscribe to when you are born!

          These theories that stand in conflict to simple logic pertain to a great many things and are what create oddities called “easements” that I have bene pushing tonight. Easements are neither right nor wrong; they are “expedient”, they exist. The constitution of the US does speak to “promote the common welfare” which some people amazingly think means their welfare CHECK but that’s a different story — the Constitution does allow for subdivisions of government to take away some of your rights for the “common welfare” and one of those rights MAY turn out to be your right to publish an unsecured WAP frequency and have nobody permitted to use it but yourself. But as we have seen with the fellow whose SSID is “SALAD”, how can you possibly know whether a WAP is intended to be publicly accessible? There is only one possible way — the presence or absence of some sort of access control.

        • #3344246

          Analogy flawed?

          by tradergeorge ·

          In reply to Let us consider taxation as an analogy

          The problem with trying to make stealing access analogous to taxation is that the bandwidth theft does nothing to promote the “common good” you speak of. It does the opposite, by increasing costs for everyone else except the thief.

          The theory of easements is a bit more intriguing, but still not applicable. An easement is, as you indicated, something that is created by law for expediency. But assuming an easement, as in the case of taking bandwidth where no law exists granting it, is still theft.

          The concept of “access control” as establishing “intent”, is analogous to assuming that if there is no lock on a door, it is okay to enter and take whatever is inside.

        • #3323512


          by dcperich ·

          In reply to Analogy needs refinement

          I think its pointless to discuss what’s the “nice” thing to do. What is LEGAL? How would it be enforced?

        • #3323596

          Private vs. Public

          by bhlang ·

          In reply to If I set some chairs out on the sidewalk…

          Private connections are those that have their security set so only authorized users can get in. Public connections are those that anyone with the right equipment can get into.

        • #3323586

          Private vs Public

          by bmcombrw ·

          In reply to Private vs. Public

          There was at least one case in the old days of the Internet where someone found a telnet service open, connected to the host, and actually did some kind of damage. The perpetrator got off scot free because the owner of the telnet site did not specify in their login banner that access to the site was limited to authorized users only.

          If your car breaks down in the boonies and land owner boundaries are not clearly marked nor are there any No Trespassing signs about, I doubt you could be prosecuted for taking a shortcut to a service station across ground that could be, for all you know, public land. And, since my little walk will likely not affect the land I’m traveling through, I don’t even think there is a moral obligation to track down the nearest land owner’s house (assuming I can tell that the land I want to traverse relates to the house) to let someone know what I’m doing. (Might be smart, though – it might be illegal for the land owner to shoot me in these circumstances, but that doesn’t help me if I’m dead.)

        • #3323559

          Public land tresspassing

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Private vs Public

          It is entirely possible that you are illegally trapsing through public land when your car broke down. Ignorance of a local ordinance is no excuse for having violated it. A public land might be deemed offlimits, say, during the mating season of an endangered species that lives there. No signs are necessary…

          Now, just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean that you’ll be prosecuted, either. Every once in a while, common sense about an issue or circumstance trumps regulations and even if you’re caught, you don’t get charged.

          So what does that mean? Not much, I suppose.

        • #3324922

          You speak of Easements

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to Private vs Public

          Private land is not 100 percent private or exclusive although many people think it is; and as it has been pointed out, public land is not libertarian; it does not mean you can do anything, although again many people are confused about this one.

          Certain kinds of urgency or emergency create easements. All emergency workers have easement for instance; police or firemen responding to your emergency, even if you did not call them, have a right to cross your land.

          The FCC has very precise rules about who can use radio frequencies and when, but an easement exists for certain dire emergencies.

          Since WAPs are fairly new, the concept of “easement” probably needs refinement at law and I would expect to find quite a lot of variability in local law about it.

        • #3323550

          The problem with this analogy…

          by stltech ·

          In reply to If I set some chairs out on the sidewalk…

          In your analogy you DELIBERATELY set chairs out in front of your house. If they’re sitting back on your property, say on the porch, anyone walking by would reasonably know they can not walk up onto your property to sit in them. If you lined them up in front of the public sidewalk, passersby might or might not assume they are for public use. People who don’t lock down their WIFI networks are not TRYING to tempt anyone (unless they?re testing), they?re simply too ignorant or lazy to secure them. I think a better analogy is that of a homeless person who has a need to access warmth, finds an unlocked door in an apartment building and walks in and sleeps in the stairwell. He got in because someone was stupid enough to leave the door unsecured. He steals nothing, soaks up the heat and air overnight and then leaves. He has not harmed the tenants in any way and has deprived them of nothing but still has breached their security and used their facilities without their permission, even if through their own stupidity. Even though no one was harmed by his actions he could still be charged with trespassing. The law protects those who are too stupid or lazy to protect themselves. As to the morality of it, the homeless person could argue in court that there has been no harm therefore there should be no penalty but would the judge buy it?

        • #3323505

          Alalogy is fine. WIFI has no front porch and property borders undefined

          by dcperich ·

          In reply to The problem with this analogy…


      • #3322627

        Federal and State Unauthorized Access Laws

        by rnw ·

        In reply to Maybe, Maybe Not

        Under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 United States Code ? 1030), such hijacking constitutes unlawful “access,” which is the first element of the crime. However, under the second element of the crime — namely, damage –, you cannot be convicted unless damage exceeds $5,000, which likely did not occur in your situation. Interestingly, the damage element can be satisfied (and the hijacking is therefore illegal), if the network owner spends $5,000 in re-securing the network, even if you caused no system or data loss. Be careful, however, because most states have similar laws, some of which require a much lower damage threshold.

        • #3323504

          Good Post!

          by dcperich ·

          In reply to Federal and State Unauthorized Access Laws

        • #3324918

          Good Post about a Different Subject

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to Good Post!

          It would be a very good post if we were discussing hacking into someone’s computer. But we are discussing listening to their radio broadcast and speaking into their microphone which has been placed where the public can speak into it. No “hacking” need take place whatsoever. Most laptops now come equipped to all-but-automatically bind to that unencrypted WAP and many people will make the one or two clicks needed to make the connection without thinking twice. Easier than tuning a radio; because it IS a radio.

        • #3323496

          But… A donut analogy

          by dcperich ·

          In reply to Federal and State Unauthorized Access Laws

          We have two quazi-departments on our floor. Often, pleople bring in donuts and set them on the shared coffee maker table. If I’m aware that someone from the other department brought the donughts, should I stay away from them? Some people clearly intend for the donuts to be consumed by all. Others prefer that they be consumed by members of their own department. Isn’t WIFI in this kind of no-man’s land?

        • #3324913

          Excellent — speaks to intention

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to But… A donut analogy

          Indeed it does and it speaks to intention, which you cannot very well discern. You must INFER intention by the nature of the surroundings and what is taking place, how often and by whom.

          Suppose you sniff every day for unsecured WAPs from the competition. One day, a previously secured WAP is broken and lets you in. You know perfectly well what the intention was; and could probably be prosecuted, although I’m not sure what law pertains if you only access the WAP but no computer behind it.

          On the other hand, in the stated scenario of a lobby, a place of public accomodation in other words, with a presumably long-established unsecured WAP that could have been secured at any time, an “easement” exists, in my opinion, that protects your right of access — and I don’t even say privilege. If it stays there long enough, the easement can become a right.

          Suppose for many years your neighbors have taken a shortcut to the city park across your back yard. They’ve worn a trail. Then one day you erect a fence. I’ve heard of cases where the landowner can be required to remove the fence and maintain the trail; it has become an easement.

          For the astute reader, be sure to secure your corporate access points even if you don’t think you need to; in order to prevent just such an easement. It’s just my opinion but I have relatives of mine who have ran afoul of easement laws on their private land and were not permitted to build fences or even restrict access to parts of their land.

        • #3323374


          by robotech ·

          In reply to Federal and State Unauthorized Access Laws

          This is a bad and misleading post. The law you referred to affects SECURED “computers” belonging to a financial institution or a Government institution, not Joe Schmoe’s WLAN.
          Most (if not all) of the analogies mentioned in this thread fall short of being applicable because they do not take into consideration the technological differences.
          The (Modern) INTERNET was conceptualized and designed as a PUBLIC network, not a private one. Radio waves cannot be treated as Cat5 cabling on private premises, because the very nature of radio waves makes them public and accessible by persons outside of your property. Just as satellite TV and cable companies scramble certain signals that are not meant for just anyone, 802.x signals that are not meant for everyone should have basic scrambling of some sort, be it authentication etc.

          The illegal part of WiFi access is: Sniffing the signals to break the authentication code, or to steal a MAC address that belongs to a machine that is duly authorized to use the network. Also, trying to break into a node on the network that has a warning about illegal access, or a node that has some security to which we were not given the password.
          The issue is best viewed with the following analogy: A park in a residential area has its gate open. This is the equivalent to a WiFi WAP with no security. I can use the park, but I can’t change anything or access the Electrical room etc. because the park isn’t mine, neither am I responsible for its implementation, maintenance etc.
          On the other hand, a Park with its gate open and a sign that says: “Park use restricted to residents of WiFi Gardens only.” is comparable to a WLAN that is not meant for Public Access.

          I’ve been to several buidlings where there are several WAPs owned by the same company, some are secured for authorized use only, and others are left open for public use. It would be very hard to prosecute someone for checking his/her e-mail by piggybacking on your 802.x signal, when it is a common/desired practise by so many other owners.
          Of course, since the WAP isn’t mine, I am not authorized to modify it’s configuration or even attempt to modify it, since my intentions would have now changed from browser to intruder. It’s like your home. None of us would object to someone running onto our lawn to retrieve a ball, but if it bounces in through an open window, permission is obviously required.

        • #3324802

          Wrong, sorry

          by cybrsage13 ·

          In reply to BAD and MISLEADING POST

          You are wrong about the Internet. It was not “The INTERNET was conceptualized and designed as a PUBLIC network, not a private one.”

          The Internet of today was originally created by the US Dept of Defense, and called the ARPANet. It was designed to link the military mainframes together to ensure communications in the event of a nuclear war. It was a VERY private network, and they never dreamed it would be a world-wide open network some day.

          Al Gore also did not invent it, nor was he even instrumental in its creation. He was instrumental in the funding of the infrastructure in use by what the ARPANet metamorphed INTO, which is now called the Internet.

          The rest of your post sounds reasonable, though.

        • #3323801

          Let me clarify.

          by robotech ·

          In reply to Wrong, sorry

          What I really meant was; The MODERN Internet. What you mentioned I studied in college, so there was no need for the Al Gore line. I think Al Gore was the only person who wasn’t laughing when he said that. Anyway, after realizing that the Internet was not going to remain PRIVATE, then the focus became public. RFCs, DNS etc. Everything adopted a PUBLIC focus. But initially, as you rightly pointed out, it was PRIVATE.

        • #3323755

          That’s not what the law says

          by calzinman at ·

          In reply to Federal and State Unauthorized Access Laws

          What can I say? I’m a bureaucrat. But I’m also an ex-academic. When somebody tells me I can’t do something and cites me a law or regulation, I have to check it out. If you read the law, which you can find at:
          it says nothing about this topic. As a later poster noted (“Bad Reply”), the law is restricted to unauthorized access to a government or financial institution, and causing damage or trying to deny service or cause disruption (basically, introduce worms, virii, trojans, and the like). The contemplated activity of hijacking a WiFi connection does not even loosely fall under the provisions of this law.

          I do think it’s bad form to do it, unless it is expressly permitted, but I believe it’s a matter of good manners, not draconian laws.

          Actually, for me, the issue is entirely academic, as the only laptop I have is for work and I only use it connected by RJ-45 (at work or at home).

        • #3059050

          Can you legally connect to an unsecured wireless network?

          by techrepublic ·

          In reply to That’s not what the law says

          Can you legally connect to an unsecured wireless network?

          Reviewing the only law I was able to find that is directly
          applicable to this question:


          Basically, it is illegal to cause damage, enter and/or deny access
          to someone else’s secured network.

          So, if you install or send worms, viruses, spam, etc., you are
          breaking the law. If the network is closed, encrypted or MAC
          protected and you enter, you are breaking the law. If you
          barrage the network so that the legitimate owner can’t use it
          would be illegal.

          This has never been tested in court and probably never will. I
          believe the reason is analogous to property. If I leave my car
          unlocked and you enter, you trespass. If you ask permission and
          I deny it, you trespass. If I lock the doors and you enter, you
          trespass. However, if I give you permission, you can enter.

          When a computer connects to a wifi network, it asks for
          permission, if granted, then you are not trespassing. If it is
          closed, denies access or requests a password and you enter,
          then you are trespassing.

          Also, it would be a logistical nightmare to enforce this. There are
          so many open public networks whose use is encouraged, Apple
          Store, Parks, etc., how do you know you are not connecting to a
          network that is available for public use. The only answer is that
          you do know, if it is closed, asks for a password or denies access
          to the connection request, it is NOT available for public use.

          Caveat emptor, your information sent over that network is
          unsecured and is subject to collection, and viewing.

          Of course, there are moral issues involved also. Checking a web
          site or your email wouldn’t be a burden on the network
          connection, but downloading gigabytes from newsgroups would
          be morally wrong.

        • #3059481

          Interesting point (machine asks for permission)

          by ned rhinelander (cnet) ·

          In reply to Can you legally connect to an unsecured wireless network?

          I hadn’t considered the nuance that within the wireless protocol itself there is a request for permission. That makes sense to me.

          8 months after this topic started I still think that the hardware manufacturers are the ones who caused, and are the only ones who can solve, this problem. If unsecuring a wireless point were as difficult as securing it is today, then I don’t think there would be any issue at all. We’ll all know that an open network was intended.


      • #3323498

        I don’t think it’s illegal unless you’re intent is to cause damage

        by unclerob ·

        In reply to Maybe, Maybe Not

        From a personal point of view (point of view? what’s that? nothing like that ever pops up around here!) I don’t think accessing the internet using access provided by an unsecured WLAN is illegal. The access point is providing a signal which it’s owner hasn’t secured and therefore he isn’t restricting access to outside users. When you setup a WLAN, the onus of responsibility to ensure that your wireless network is secure is placed on you since the equipment is yours, you set it up & maintain it, pay for the electricity that powers it, purchased the equipment that uses it (wlan cards for you & your users, wireless access point to distribute the signal, and the internet access service you pay for). Security is a form of insurance and it’s a choice you have to make, if you’re not willing to insure yourself & your users from would-be users that accidentally discover that they can access your WLAN and it’s resources (one of which being internet access) than the fault is yours alone. Ethics is the real question here, is it ethical to use someone else’s wireless internet access? Things tend to be more concrete & finite when the resources are tangible. In this case people can argue all day long that a wireless signal is tangible or it isn’t. If it’s a tangible resource, then you can argue it’s stealing but you could also argue the point of why it’s not secure to begin with and why should unsecure wireless signals be broadcast in a public place – maybe that could be viewed as an invasion of your personal privacy (being bombarded by wireless signals in the 802.11b-g range – of course I’m being facetious). But if you argue that it’s an intangible resource than there’s no harm done in accessing the internet using someone else’s WLAN.

        I read a post by someone at softwarelaw that quotes that this type of access could be construed as unlawful but I doubt you could get a charge like that to stick. The internet is a global resource and as such a specific country’s laws may not always be applicable. Give you an example, DirectTV satelite service is broadcast to U.S. subscribers who pay for the service, but the service is broadcast globally because it’s provided by satelite and as such anyone who buys a directtv dish and pirates an access card can get the service for free, people in Canada have been doing it for years. DirectTV found that it was losing money because of all this unauthorized use of it’s service and attempted to sue canadians who were selling DirectTV hardware in Canada. From what I remember they weren’t all that successful because even though their signals were being broadcast into another country and people were pirating the service, they didn’t have a license to operate and sell that service in Canada and couldn’t contain the service to the continental U.S. and as such couldn’t doing anything about stopping the pirating of it’s service. What do they do then, they zap everyone’s machine with a signal to bring down the pirater’s machines, both legit & non-legit users. Legit users have to call DirectTV to get the service running again. Although this example deals with a signal reaching another country which is another ball of wax, the bottom line is this, they broadcast a signal to everyone not just their intended subscribed users and people took advantage of that.

        There’s a lot of people that don’t pay for cable either because they’re cheap or poor or whatever and have a tv with antenna and watch whatever tv signals they can get a hold of, don’t think it’s illegal although they could technically be construed as stealing tv service without paying for it. But why bother, these people just took advantage of a resource that was available.

        What if someone (again I’m being smart a$$ here) invents a fresh air machine for their personal area and you walk by and breath in some of this fresh air, did you steal that service without paying for it or did you just take advantage of an intangible resource and didn’t hurt anyone in the process.

        I tend to be verbose and everyone fell asleep after reading this I’m sure. I don’t think it’s illegal if you kept your use restricted to internet access and didn’t try to hack into their network and destroy or steal data, keep your use ethical (the pundits will cry out that this is unethical) and don’t worry too much about it.

        Maybe one day they’ll discover that all of these radio waves floating about unrestricted had some bad effect on everyone’s health and at that point you’ll be able to sue someone/everyone for the health problems it caused.

        Bottom line, if you have a WLAN and didn’t secure it from unauthorized outside access then you have provided free internet access to those that discovered it was available and shouldn’t be mad at those people that made use of your resource. If you don’t want to be an impromptu wireless ISP for strangers, secure your WLAN and be done with it.

        Who knows maybe one day in the future people will look back and laugh at a discussion on this issue because in the end accessing the internet on someone’s WLAN isn’t really that big a deal. I wish people would make a bigger deal about all the spam we get in our inboxes, and hackers that break into banks and steal peoples money. Get the lawmakers to crack down on those types of issues.

        This was a good discussion, I welcome any replies for or against my points but please keep it clean and don’t attack me for my opinions – one guy went ape on me for my “liberal” point of view in another TR discussion and that’s not good for anyone. CHEERS!

        • #3323457

          lack of insurance

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to I don’t think it’s illegal unless you’re intent is to cause damage

          Not having bought insurance against theft does not permit the theft. So that analogy doesn’t work for me.

          [That leaves you to have to prove it was a theft of something in the first place in order to say someone wronged you.]

          Likewise, your DirecTV analogy doesn’t work. By your logic, anyone can read the SSID all they want, capture any packets that are broadcast and read them to their hearts’ content. However, once you reply back and request specific use and information, you have crossed the line.

        • #3323418

          I guess that’s your opinion and you’re welcome to it….

          by unclerob ·

          In reply to lack of insurance

          …. but you still don’t account for the lack of security. It’s an unsecured WLAN which allows unauthorized use which is the cause of the problem to begin with. If it was a secured WLAN, no one would be able to access the internet without being an authorized user. Take into account one thing: no one owns the radio waves being transmitted, as a provider you’re simply the source of their transmission, in which case radio waves are really an intangible resource – you can’t take back what you’ve transmitted. If you are providing unsecured wireless internet access, you can’t fault the person who happens to pick up the signal and make use of them, the only person at fault is that person who didn’t take the necessary security precautions. Once the unsecured wireless signal leaves the confines of your physical area and enters a public place, the person who happens to hitch a ride on your network connection isn’t at fault. He didn’t physically walk into your office and sit down at a desk, he sat in public lobby, got curious and snooped around and found that a few WLAN’s were available and broadcasting a strong enough signal for someone to make use of.

          You’ve mentioned analogies a few times and granted mine aren’t great but I still think that the WLAN is unsecure, if you don’t take the precautions of securing it so that an unauthorized user can’t make use of it, you can’t fault him for using it.

          Let’s look at it from another point of view, let’s say that it is theft. Your unsecured wireless signal has left the physical confines of your office and is strong enough to provide access to users in the public lobby or even outside on the front door step of the building. Since this wireless signal is yours and you haven’t taken precautions to secure your WLAN from unauthorized use, should you pay extra rent to the building owner to cover the entire area that your wireless signal is being broadcast over? In this analogy, the signal is yours as you do lay claim to it, and if someone else uses it without your consent, it’s theft. Therefore it’s a tangible resource but since it is yours and your allowing it to be broadcast to an area exceeding the physical limits of your office, shouldn’t you pay extra rent since you’re taking up extra space? Sure the radio waves don’t take up physical space but the range of your wireless access point allows you to cover a physical range greater than what you currently occupy. What if your signal interfere’s with another poorly setup WLAN and causes users to get disconnected and reconnected to another nearby WLAN. Troubleshooting, downtime, network access issues, etc. these all cost money – since it’s YOUR signal are you then responsible for paying damages to these other businesses because you’re broadcasting your signal beyond your physical premises?

          Obviously this sounds rather foolish. Radio waves are intangible, once they’re broadcast you can’t reel them back in, they have no physical weight, color or appearance. If the unsecured signal enters a public area, they’re available for use for those savvy enough to make use of them. It’s not like finding money on the ground or stealing something physical (car, money, girlfriend? – HA!)

          Plus if you want to get technical about it, we’re not radio stations but since we’re broadcasting wireless signals shouldn’t we pay the applicable legislative,admin & licensing fees for the right to broadcast a signal into public areas.

          I think it would be cheaper & wiser just to secure the WLAN so that the signals are only sent to it’s intended user base. Once the signal hits the public, they’re free game to those who want to use them.

          How’s that for an opinion! I now await the beating you will surely give me for being so insolent in my response to you; please take it easy on me, I have a wife & family – they need my paycheque 🙂

        • #3323408

          No need for insolence

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to I guess that’s your opinion and you’re welcome to it….

          But you’re right, this isn’t radio. Radios receive only. When you establish a two-way communication, you have broken the law.

      • #3324796

        its a modern day value add

        by edmundjeevan ·

        In reply to Maybe, Maybe Not

        it maybe an security breach for a techie, but for a layman its nothing but an additional value-add so that he can easily get connected to the network.

      • #3323768

        Due diligence

        by danfugett ·

        In reply to Maybe, Maybe Not

        My responsibility is not diminished because someone else might have failed to secure their network. It is entirely my responsibility to know if this is a public hotspot or a private unsecure network.

        In the end, this is not just about legalities and ethics, but IT citinzenship where technology is emerging. I think we know not to go in a door and get a drink from a refrigerator simply because someone left the door unlocked. Further, we need to not make excuses to be less than responsible citizend.

        Dan Fugett

      • #3343049

        Re: Maybe

        by vltiii ·

        In reply to Maybe, Maybe Not

        I don’t have anything of value to add here. I just wanted to acknowledge your animation…very nice!

        • #3343027


          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Re: Maybe

          It’s been nice to get all the comps…

    • #3327871

      No Cyber-Trespassing ????

      by maxwell edison ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      In my opinion, if there’s no law against it, then it’s okay. Whether it’s nice and/or ethical, however, is another issue. Are you cyber-trespassing? Well, maybe you are, but that doesn’t necessarily make it wrong.

      If your automobile broke down out in the country, and by taking the most direct route — across someone’s farm — you were only one mile away from a service station, compared to three miles if you stayed on the roads going around his land, would it be legally trespassing if you took the shortcut? I don’t think it would be, unless, of course, there was a no trespassing sign clearly posted. Sure, the land owner could ask you to turn around and leave, but if it’s not posted you certainly couldn’t get in any trouble for it.

      In the case of cyber-trespassing, I might suggest that if such a wireless connection is indeed configured with security measures and such, then that would be the equivalent of a cyber-no-trespassing sign. But if there was no cyber-sign, so to speak, as long as you don’t break into his cyber-farm-house, then taking a shortcut across his cyber-land is just that.

      On deptrak’s suggestion of telling them about their unsecured network, It reminds me of a story I read about a somewhat related incident.

      There was a very enterprising network security expert in Houston, Texas who would drive around various business areas looking for unsecured wireless connections. When he found one, he would tap into that company’s network and find something that he could show to the business management to illustrate how unsecure their network really was. He would then, of course, offer his services to help them achieve a more secure network. Well, one particular business didn’t think too much of his methods, and they called the Harris County Sheriffs Department and asked that the guy be arrested. He was indeed arrested, he had to post bail, and had to appear in court to answer whatever charges were filed against him. However, since he could show that no malice was intended, and that he did not break any existing laws, the charges were dismissed. But he did have to go through the hassle and expense of the arrest and court appearance. (True story. An Internet search could probably reveal the more precise details.)

      So I’d say there’s really nothing legally wrong with cyber-trespassing. But I might suggest that you remain alert for any cyber-shotguns.

      • #3327852

        Always loved that story

        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to No Cyber-Trespassing ????

        Of course, all Ned need do to inform them of the unsecured access point is tell htem that he saw it while he was in the lobby on his laptop.

        • #3327831

          I found my own “story”

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Always loved that story

          I did indeed get some of the “details” wrong, but it did happen, and it did happen in Harris County Texas. But the guy actually accessed the County’s network, not a private business. And there was more to the story as well.

          I like my version better. I think I’ll stick with that one. (That’s how urban legends are born, you know.)

          And I realize that you were suggesting an innocent “heads-up” to that business. But it just reminded me of the story.

      • #3327824

        I think it is highjacking/trespassing

        by it_lobo ·

        In reply to No Cyber-Trespassing ????

        Trespassing law could apply to wireless access points.

        If you think it is wrong, IT IS WRONG.

        Technically, a person violates the law against trespassing by knowingly going onto someone else’s land without consent.

        • #3327796

          Right or Wrong versus Legal or Illegal

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to I think it is highjacking/trespassing

          In some jurisdictions trespassing is an offense that is covered by a specific criminal code. In other jurisdictions, however, it is not considered a crime because there is no criminal code on the books. Moreover, I believe the circumstances could determine whether or not a transgression took place. For example, there’s no way I could have someone arrested for going into my unfenced backyard without my consent. What if I lived on a golf course, for example, and people came into my yard to retrieve their errant golf shots? What if school kids cut across my unfenced yard as a shortcut? I didn’t necessarily give the kids or the golfers my permission to do so, but I didn’t put up a fence to prevent it either. If I tried to have them arrested for trespassing, I’d probably receive a tongue-lashing for wasting the officer’s time.

        • #3323416

          I’m glad someone finally shares my viewpoint on this!

          by unclerob ·

          In reply to Right or Wrong versus Legal or Illegal

          Thanks Max, Excellent point!
          If you don’t secure your WLAN, you can’t complain if someone hitches a ride on your network connection. If it means that much to you that you can’t tolerate unauthorized access to your WLAN, setup the necessary security to prevent it from happening in the first place.

        • #3323407

          Of course!

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to I’m glad someone finally shares my viewpoint on this!

          All APs that should be secure, should be secured!

          But that doesn’t mean it’s OK to take advantage of an open access point.

          Sure, they might not mind for anyone connecting in a “onesy twosy” fashion, but I’m sure they don’t want you to make a habit of it, either.

          Just because someone is stupid doesn’t make you right.

        • #3323403

          OK, OK, I agree with you on one point….

          by unclerob ·

          In reply to Of course!

          ….You shouldn’t take advantage of stupid people, not because it’s illegal because it isn’t, stupid people get taken advantage of all the time (like the time I got married – HA! just kidding) but because it’s not right.

          But this changes this from being an issue of whether it’s legal or not to whether it’s the right thing to do.

          Is this the right thing to do? – probably not. You are getting a free ride on that person’s wireless network and if you’re harmless and just surfing the net you’re not doing anything worse than hogging up his network bandwidth without letting him know. The right thing to do would be to find the office broadcasting the signal and tell them to secure that network in a hurry before someone does something worse than surf the net on their dime. But I don’t think it’s illegal and the owner of the access point needs to take responsibility for administration of the equipment that he owns.

          And if we’re agreed (it’s ok if you don’t) that it’s not illegal, than the question is ultimately one of ethics, is it right or wrong to do this?

          But we humans tend to be a strange bunch, everyone has their own take on what’s right & wrong but we’re all built with a common instinct that instructs as to what is right or wrong for us. I guess that’s why there so much conflict in the world, we can’t agree on anything. Take a look at the length of this current discussion (don’t get me wrong, I think it’s amazing to get this much input from so many people on such an interesting topic), we probably have near equal amounts of people for & against the unauthorized use of this wireless signal, we’re all tugging on the opposite end of this radio wave in question.

          What’s the moral in all of this: don’t take advantage of stupid people (I could be one of them), try to do the right thing (everything isn’t black & white and 256 shades of grey tend to confuse alot of people), secure your WLAN access points from unauthorized used and continue to take part in awesome techrepublic discussions such as these.

        • #3323389

          Agreeing or not

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to OK, OK, I agree with you on one point….

          Somewhere way down near the bottom I explained my position a little more: Here’s a brief recap…

          It IS illegal – but an extremely minor offense likely wouldn’t even be noticed, let alone be worth trying to prosecute.

          There would clearly be a line crossed if the unsecure AP were used for hosting a Child Pornography site – And the RIAA could probably have a case against hosting a music swapping server…

          Someone else used the example of stealing $100 might be OK to you, but $1,000,000 wouldn’t.

          So someone took a penny from you, it’s not worth even thinking about [to most people]. But the line where it DOES matter could vary from person to person. The fact that it isn’t worth fighting about doesn’t mean it isn’t illegal – it just means you don’t care. And that’s OK.

        • #3323848

          I Agree

          by 280turbo ·

          In reply to I’m glad someone finally shares my viewpoint on this!

          I agree, that if you don’t secure your WLAN, you leave yourself wide open for others to use the signal. If you leave you car parked on the street, unlocked and keys in it, that doesn’t mean you want someone to take your car, but if it gets stolen, good luck getting the insurance company to pay because you were dumb enough to leave it unsecured. If the car was locked and broken into, different story. I see signs in public places all the time telling people to “lock your valuables and don’t leave them out where they can be seen” I feel that this is the same, if you don’t want someone else using your stuff, LOCK IT DOWN ! Why do people use antivirus – so they don’t get infected. Why use a firewall – to keep others out of your PC. The same rule applies to wireless networks – If you don’t want someone else to touch it, Secure it. If you don’t know how, go on the internet and do some research, hire someone to do it, or just deal with it. If I found out that someone was accessing my wireless network, I wouldn’t try to have them prosecuted, I would lock it down and blame myself for not securing it in the first place. You can’t always count on people to do the “right thing”, so you have to protect yourself and property.

        • #3327341

          No it’s not.

          by techjock ·

          In reply to I think it is highjacking/trespassing

          As a hunter I can attest to the fact that it’s unwise to hunt on someone’s farm without their permission, but that involves potentially removing things from their property (game).

          In fact, in every location I’ve ever hunted or leased land for hunting, if the land isn’t posted, you can hunt there. On three seperate hunt leases, we were required to post No Hunting signs so that each sign was visible from it’s neighbor.

          Putting up a wireless network is really no different. You are using public airwaves, in an unlicensed spectral band, and if you don’t post otherwise (ie No SSID Broadcast, MAC Filtering, WEP, etc) then you have opened it to the public, for public use.

          If you ever want to claim that the network is/was private, you MUST make some effort to secure it. Even if it’s as simple a method as turning off the SSID broadcast. It’s my understanding (IANAL) that if you don’t protect an asset with at least minimal means, they you cannot claim loss/trespass in a Court of Law. (YMMV)

        • #3322716

          Ultimately, a question of conscience.

          by billds ·

          In reply to No it’s not.

          If you are not using tools to circumvent security measures in order to gain access and given that anyone setting up an access point should know the consequences of broadcasting the SSID I feel that the responsibility lies with the person that set up the access point.

          In the end if you want to be protected and there is no law to protect you then you must protect yourself.

          From the perspective of the person ‘intruding’, if they aren’t breaking any law then it has to come down to their own conscience.

        • #3322695


          by scottvolkert ·

          In reply to No it’s not.

          If you don’t ask to permission to hunt private lands in Wisconsin, you just violated the law. The lack of “signs” does not give you permission to enjoy the land I paid for.

          And you better have it writing, in case you make the land owner mad and he denies permission!

        • #3322663

          And it follows …..

          by bronzemouse2003 ·

          In reply to DONT HUNT IN WISCONSIN

          You purchased the land, stocked it as a private preserve (fish or game?) and fail to put in the proper barrier to prevent the stock from leaving the property.

          When the stock leaves your property, it’s open season on a public asset – your loss!

          Do it right the first time.

        • #3323558

          How your example applies

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to And it follows …..

          Your example is for reading what is broadcast.

          That’s it.

          When you reply to it and use the service back through the owner’s property, you have then violated the law.

          That would be like shooting the dear [non-fatally] off of the property, then following it back onto the property to finish it off.

        • #3323926

          In reality ….

          by bronzemouse2003 ·

          In reply to How your example applies

          If you shot the deer on public property, and it returned to private property, Law Enforcement would provide access to finish the animal off. Cruelty to animals ya know.

          Not so with an open wireless LAN. When the owner shuts it off, it’s off. And should have been from the beginning.

        • #3323923


          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to How your example applies

          I said non-fatal. CVould have been a scratch. I doubt that qualifies. You see my point.

          Besides, hunting laws aren’t federal [mostly].

          And we’ve put to rest the argument that just because it’s there doesn’t mean it’s for you to use.

        • #3322655

          there *is* a difference between hunting and squatting

          by ktc ·

          In reply to No it’s not.

          I beg to differ on this comparison. At least in the state of Michigan, specific laws are on the books about hunting. They, in part, state that if “no hunting” signs are NOT posted, it is fair game to hunt.

          But, there is not a law on the books addressing the network posting of “no squatting” signs and thus the legality of squatting.

        • #3323607

          Crazy place, that Durham!

          by wwwebster ·

          In reply to No it’s not.

          NC must have ome pretty liberal hunting laws! In VA, hunting ANY property without the owner’s permission is a crime. If the property is posted, a hunter must have the owner’s written permission – if they hunt without it, it’s an even more serious violation.

        • #3323913

          It just depends on where you hunt

          by fedup ·

          In reply to No it’s not.

          In Colorado, you DO NOT have to post your land. It is the hunters responsibility to find the owner and ask permission. So in Colorado, I guess, you have to ask permission to use their connection.

        • #3322659

          What is consent?

          by dboundscpa ·

          In reply to I think it is highjacking/trespassing

          If I leave my doors open while I am away and someone enters my home, I can’t have them charged with breaking and entering and probably not even with trespassing since I gave my IMPLIED CONSENT by leaving the door open.

          In the same way, an unsecured network, broadcasting its SSID, is like an open door.

          It is not trespassing to connect to an available wireless network if you did nothing to access it other than a basic search for available networks. On the contrary, it is negligence on the part of the network administrator to allow the network to be exposed if it shouldn’t be.

        • #3323527

          Degree of crime

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to What is consent?

          While I would disagree that it is implied consent, I would agree that the administrator is partially to blame. Therefore a judge might lessen the punishment accordingly, [if the “case” got before one] but there is still fault with the person accessing the AP.

        • #3322629

          YOU ARE WRONG

          by deathtoliberalism ·

          In reply to I think it is highjacking/trespassing

          I think the hijacking is the other way around. When I turn my laptop on, my wireless setup immediately detects the nearest wireless kit, and if unsecured, connects automatically, and recieves a DHCP address from them automatically. Who’s just been raped? I want to use my laptop without being forced to ‘secure it’ from these moronic sysadmins. They should bloody well just have to eat the consequences; they’ve forced me onto their network, do they even have the right to expect that I’m not going to use it?

        • #3323616

          I agree JSCHMIDT

          by dave.schutz ·

          In reply to YOU ARE WRONG

          If you put up an unsecured wireless network and my computer finds it with no effort on my part, that’s your fault. As long as I don’t use for illegal activity than I don’t see a problem with it.
          If you don’t want others to connect to your wireless network then secure it!!
          As network admins we spend lots of time securing our wired networks and I believe it is a resonable expectation we should do the same for our wireless networks. I know I do.

        • #3323533

          Taking candy from a baby?

          by buschman_007 ·

          In reply to YOU ARE WRONG

          I know it’s no excuse, but I’d bet a good chunk of those unsecured networks are coming from the homes and offices of those unaware of the danger. Perhaps they don’t understand the risk involved in wireless networking. Many think Wi-Fi is as harmless as their TV remote. Just a way to get internet access without wires.

          So in this respect hijacking is somewhat like taking candy from a a baby. 😉


        • #3322623

          I think it is highjacking/trespassing – NOT

          by hnhmailbox-tr ·

          In reply to I think it is highjacking/trespassing

          If your neighbor’s fruit tree grows over your common fence into your yard, it is legal to pick the fruit that is on you side of the fence. Moreover, you can trim back the branches on your side. The possible limit to this is that you can’t trim the tree so severely that it dies.

          This individual did not go into the property of the WLAN owner. The WLAN came into a common area and was used (apparently) without harm to the WLAN.

        • #3323581

          Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          by bmcombrw ·

          In reply to I think it is highjacking/trespassing

          But you have to show that the person could reasonably expect that this was private, not public, land. Also, trespassing is a misdemeanor. Unless damage has been done, law enforcement barely bothers to acknowledge trespassing calls. In practical terms, what does it matter if an act is technically illegal if it is unlikely that the law will be enforced to my benefit?

    • #3327780

      I think it depends on location, too

      by smorty71 ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I think this whole thing gets a little more complicated when you consider where you are in relation to the access point.

      For example, Ned was in his company’s building. What if the network was from a nearby building. How much responsibility should the network owner have for the range of the network equipment?

      I often get irritated that my neighbors in the houses on either side of mine both have wirless networks that are received by my wireless NIC. While I don’t access those networks, I would prefer that they keep their networks on their property.

      I know that sounds kind of wacky; however, everyone who has responded seems to think Ned was trespassing. Couldn’t the same argument be made the other way, too?

      • #3327707

        Here’s what I understand

        by jdmercha ·

        In reply to I think it depends on location, too

        Let’s say your neighbors wireless router interferes with your cordless phone. (Which is very possible.) You can file a complaint with the FCC. Your neighbor will then have to take steps to eliminate that interference. (Or be fined.)

      • #3322913

        Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

        by mrafrohead ·

        In reply to I think it depends on location, too

        Responsibility for range…

        I know that you can control the output of the AP’s… Less output means less broadcast.

        In case of business though, I think that that’s different than home.

        What I would recommend for your home problem with your wonderful neighbors. One of two things.

        Change their SSID, or screw with all of the settings… That all depends on how you feel with that type of thing. After all, they are violating your space, IMHO…

        OR – Change the channel that your NIC listens to by default, and tighten down what your NIC will listen to (speed settings). Customize it strictly for your home network. That will also help and then you won’t be interfering with others rudeness…

        To me it doesn’t sound wacky at all. I see it as you come through my house and it’s mine. And if they catch me on the wrong day, and my network is interefered with by theirs, (and theirs are completely unsecured, i’ve checked) I may possibly flash their firmware… That would permanently fix the problem… ;p


        • #3323612

          Responsibility for Interfering

          by sverbil ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          802.11x devices operate under Part 15 of the FCC
          rules. There is *no* right to freedom from
          interference, or more exactly, “no expectation
          of protection.” That’s the quid pro pro in
          exchange for being allowed to use unlicensed
          devices. You can’t prevent 802.11 signals from
          “Floating” into your space, and more than you
          prevent interfering 2.4 GHz emissions from your
          Microwave oven (operating under Part 18 rules in
          the *same* spectrum) from floating across the
          hallway and interfering with your neighbor’s
          wireless AP. You *would* be responsible if your
          microwave oven was faulty and operating outside
          of the specifications (and it would be a healthy
          thing for you to fix!) but… as long as you’re
          operating in spec, you don’t need to refrain
          from operating your microwave oven. Take a look
          at the dispute from 2001 over Fusion lights
          RF-powered lighting systems to see where this is

    • #3327748

      mea culpa, and the role of technology

      by ned rhinelander (cnet) ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I think that the point made earlier, along the lines of “if you think it’s wrong, it is wrong”, sums up my feeling about this morning. Being technical, I strongly suspect the WAP was inadvertantly setup without security. I knew better.

      But imagine this scenario: I (or a less geeky version of me) turn my laptop on, sign in and walk away to get a cup of coffee.

      My computer boots up, connects automatically to any available network, and any apps that auto-start, come online (for me, YIM and webshots, as well as probably a bunch of other apps I’m not aware of). Technically my computer has just hijacked an account, without any active knowledge on my part. My less geeky alter ego would just start using the computer and be thankful that the wireless magic works so well.

      Second point…what about the many intentionally free hotspots out there? Are users supposed to try to guess about the validity of access point based on the SSID name alone? That’s pretty ridiculous.

      In summary, I do agree with most people: it was a sketchy thing to do for me…but the state of technology makes an open access point tantamount to an invitation to use it. In fact the way most laptops are setup it’s actually more difficult to NOT connect than it is to connect.

      • #3327737

        No need to flog yourself

        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to mea culpa, and the role of technology

        The example you showed where you walk away is allowed for in terms of intent. However, jsut because you’re unaware of having violated something doesn’t mean it’s right.

        Of course, you can set your machine up to not automatically connect to any wireless network. That is as equally hard as not allowing any laptop to connect to your network, too.

        But no, you shouldn’t think of yourself as having committed some heinous crime. Your intent was not malicious. There was certainly a chance that the node was there jsut for that purpose, too.

        Out of curiousity, what was the SSID name? What were the others? Did you simply choose the strongest signal, the one on the top of the list… Or did you actually pick one that looked like it was intended for that use?

        We, as technology professionals, have a duty to use others’ resources in a professional manner. We should not hijack someone else’s connection ofr malicious needs.

        We also have a duty, some might say, to inform others when they have erred and set up a HUGE security hole [not that you checked that far, I’m sure].

        Then, we, as cohabitating citizens of a kind and sensible world, can also understand you didn’t really do anything all that bad.

        You weren’t in Harris County, though, right?

      • #3327722


        by choppit ·

        In reply to mea culpa, and the role of technology

        If you have concerns about cyber-trespass, why would you allow your laptop to connect to any available network?

      • #3322912

        Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

        by mrafrohead ·

        In reply to mea culpa, and the role of technology

        There’s a difference if you find a network in a business district that is open. If you REALLY are curious if you should be on it or not. Check to see if the AP is locked down. If it is, it is safe to assume that it’s open for a reason. And more than likely has port blocking enabled and maybe even AV running to control spread of virii.

        On the flipside, as you connect to these networks, beware what you do, because you really never know who is watching YOU… ;p

        I’ve left my network wide open before to see who will connect to it. I have 400 Yards of broadcast strength. I intended on watching who did what on my stuff… To my sadness, no one connected, not once… **sniff** **sniff**

      • #3322718

        Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

        by kmhs_sa ·

        In reply to mea culpa, and the role of technology

        If you are to try and notify that the AP is unsecured, how are you supposed to notify who it is.

        My wireless LAN has the SSID of SALAD. Given that, how are you supposed to determine it is mine. Then it goes on, if you can access those details, what about someone who wishes to specifically target that network.

      • #3322677

        mea culpa, and the role of technology

        by mich-a-billy ·

        In reply to mea culpa, and the role of technology

        It has been my experience that Windows doesn’t connect to a SSID that it hasn’t incountered before as a default. It only informs the user that a Wireless connection is availiable. After the user allows it to connect, Windows will connect to the SSID every time it sees it.

      • #3323623

        Gray area

        by bossford ·

        In reply to mea culpa, and the role of technology

        Ned did you not say you were in the lobby of the company you work for? With the fact that the company you work for uses wireless networking, is it really a case of you hi-jacking/trespassing? It would seem that in your case it amounts to nothing more than you working away from your desk. Had you been at a clients? or vendors? place of business what had happened could be perceived as trespassing/hi-jacking. Being an IT professional your knowledge and common sense should have raised some concerns. At the same time in the scenario you describe one might think if you?re in the lobby of a company and you are able to connect that it may have been set up for visitor use.

      • #3323553

        GAAP type guidelines for IT

        by jtakiwi ·

        In reply to mea culpa, and the role of technology

        Accountants have this thing called Generally accepted accounting practices. The accountants came up w/ a common method of figuring assets, value, depreciation, losses, etc… and they can turn to those guidelines to justify a particular decision, action or whatnot. Now, I’m no accountant, but I understand their intent with this. I think IT would be well served w/ a similar arrangement. GAITP, Generally Accepted IT Practices. All of us in the industry know (or should) that you need to make some changes to the default setting of a WAP in order to secure it. We know you change the Administrator password, we know you have a firewall at the entry point(s) of your network, you have a password policy, run current anti virus software, scan email for viruses prior to entry into the network, filter spam, etc… Now, on to the WAP being unsecured; They are private property, but it is private property that infringes upon public space or other property. I think it boils down to ignorance on the part of the majority of folks who purchase and use wireless routers and AP’s. SOmeone said in an earlier post , if you think it’s wrong, it is wrong. What we are left with is basically a setup where people need to police themselves, regardless of intent. Unsecured AP’s are huge potential securty risk and a big target for hackers or other malcontents to use as a tool for who know what, anonymously. True story, I needed to connect to my corporate network while out of town, and of course, the hotel that offered internet in every room had a problem and it didn’t work. I drove around w/ a sniffer and pulled up in front of a condo in Buckhead. At least 30 if not more unsecured ap’s appeared, all begging to be used. I picked the strongest and did what I needed to. I know it wasn’t right, but they were radiating into a public space, so I didn’t break any laws, in fact, I am allowed to use that spectrum freely as I read the rules. My two cents.

        • #3323542

          There are GAAP type guidelines

          by djunia ·

          In reply to GAAP type guidelines for IT

          just a whole lot less visible.

          There are security standards published all over the place as well as IT audit/control requirements. They make this situation much clearer.

          The reason security folk require log in banners is that they identify both your wired and wireless networks are private and that you will (or won’t) prosecute. You cannot pass most IT audits without findings if you don’t use these. In most states, you cannot prosecute if you don’t use these. There are arguments in the security/audit community over whether the identity of the network owner should be in the banner, since that can help the bad guys, but the banner is essential.

          When I work with companies that have wireless networks, I recommend that wireless services be tied to their VPN. That makes it simplest to keep wanderers out.

          I would not log in to an unknown network, wired or wireless. There are folk out there setting up trap networks that will capture all of your activity. Not a lot and not likely in an office building, but it is something to consider. Also, the folk who own the wireless (and, eventually, wired) network can also capture everything you do over their connection. They pay for the bandwidth and the internet connectivity, so you are “borrowing” a cup of internet without permission. For everyone who has had to deal with bandwidth limitations, that can be significant.

          It is wrong to use someone else’s network without permission. Your connection from the lobby was wireless, but that becomes wired very quickly. You would not step into their office and pick up the phone without asking.

          Finally, if they are that poorly secured, I would worry about what sort of malware is floating around their net. Good security goes both ways.

    • #3327746

      Was there a warning/notice at connect?

      by mrafrohead ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      If not, then I would assume it public domain…

      If you are given a warning that specifically states, DO NOT CONNECT UNLESS… then you should be fine.

      Worse comes to worse, you’re connected wirelessly. They can’t find you if you don’t want them to.

      • #3327742

        [no banner or warning]

        by ned rhinelander (cnet) ·

        In reply to Was there a warning/notice at connect?

        it just connected

      • #3327719

        Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

        by choppit ·

        In reply to Was there a warning/notice at connect?

        So it’s OK if they don’t catch you???

        • #3327710

          – disregard

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?


        • #3327680

          Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          by choppit ·

          In reply to – disregard

          Don’t get me wrong, I neither agree nor disagree with this practice. If you can convince yourself something is right, then it must be…..

        • #3327670

          There’s a difference

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          Just because something may not be “right”, it doesn’t necessarily make it “wrong”.

          I heard a story about a guy who had an old couch that he didn’t want. It was in very good condition, but he just didn’t want to fool around with selling it. So he put it out on at the end his driveway and placed a sign on it that simply said, “FREE”. After a week, the couch was still sitting there. But the guy had, what we might call, a very interesting idea. He removed the “FREE” sign, and replaced it with one that said “$100 – Inquire Within”. The next day, the couch was gone.

          Since he did this to entice someone to “steal” something of value, rather than drag off something that was worthless, did the new owner of the couch really do something “wrong”? Was it “wrong” in one way, but not “wrong” in another? How could that be? Moreover, could he be prosecuted for it?

          Don’t you just love those “moral dilemma” type questions?

        • #3323525

          Different anaolgy

          by buschman_007 ·

          In reply to There’s a difference

          I agree this is an interesting moral/ethical dilemma.

          You can think of hundreds or somewhat relavent anaolgies for hijacking. The field(w or w/o tresspassing sign) is a good one. What about a dollar bill? I mean legal tender is publically traded. But if I see a dollar bill on the ground that doesn’t mean it’s my dollar. legally is it stealing? I don’t think so. Are you morally obligated to try and find it’s owner? Is it ethical to take it?

          Very much a grey area.

          Personally I don’t have a huge problem with it. When my cable modem was down, I used my neigherbors unsecured access point. Just simple surfing, nothing devious. But I did feel guilty while doing it. So I guess somewhere down deep I don’t feel it’s right. Even though I didn’t misuse, I did somewhat take advantage of their ignorance. Or at least that’s my assumption. Maybe they are aware of the risks and just don’t care if others use their bandwidth.

          No clear answer for this one.


        • #3328219

          Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          No, not so much that it’s okay if they don’t catch you.

          It’s okay if they don’t secure it…

          If someone can’t take the time to read the 20 page instruction manual that comes with it, then it’s their own fault for their own negligence.

          Just to add a little spice to this thread, what I do when I find an open network:

          I change the SSID to “secure_your_router”. They all lose their connection and then have to go in and figure out what happened. I figure that in doing that, it forces them into the Admin program and once in there, they’re mor elikely to change it and secure their stuff… Specially since it’s been changed on them once, they don’t want it to happen to them. And since it’s nothing that hurts anything, I think that in the long run, it helps them. I don’t think it’s appropriate to do anything malicious with it though…

          Running insecure networks is negligent and hte rest of us pay for it. Spammers getting to do what they want, fraud and ID theft. Remember, every stolen credit card, you and I pay for in higher rates and all of that jazz…

          Insecure open networks are a bad thing for all of us, and they shouldn’t be allowed. Those that run them should get into trouble for doing it, as well as those for “illegally” connecting…

          Secure open networks are fine though, as then you’re running a community service ;p


        • #3328177

          Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          by choppit ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          Do you think it would therfore be a sensible step for wireless AP manufacturers to default settings to secure with no SSID broadcast (perhaps even a random SSID), then show a warning if these settings are changed?

        • #3328172


          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          What, and potentially lose market share?!

        • #3328170

          Choppit – Instead of playing. . . .

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          Instead of playing, what seems to be, a devils advocate roll, what’s your opinion on it? Out of the many messages you’ve posted in this discussion, it’s not clear what you really think.

        • #3328098

          What do I think?

          by choppit ·

          In reply to Choppit – Instead of playing. . . .

          I don’t do it, for the same reason I don’t plug my appliances into mains outlets in public areas. However, when I travel (not often) and I have time to kill, I sometimes set out to find wireless networks, secure or otherwise. I don’t however connect to them. If I find insecure APs, if possible, I’ll inform the owners.

        • #3322923

          That would be a start.

          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          Personally, if they wanted to really do it right, they would force a user to configure the router BEFORE it would start to operate.

          Something simple. On first boot, or reset, they would have to go through a basic config to set an SSID – choose whether or not to broadcast. Choose whether or not they wanted and open or closed network. Give the ability to add a logon advert (something to say whether the network is public or private). Give the ability to encrypt. THEN it should start.

          But that would be too easy, and the users might get confused.

          WE are ALL effected by dillhole users that pull crap out of the box and run it open. And it should NOT be allowed. If you aren’t competant enough to read an instruction manual, then **poof** you should not have the rights to connect your network to the rest of ours.


        • #3323164

          Once you make changes, you are in the wrong

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          It is one thing if you can be in a public area and pick up and use an unsecured access point.

          It is another if you start making system changes to someone’s personal property. This is an illegal intrusion and should never be condoneded.

          Just like if someone does secure their access point but you hack it anyways. That would be wrong too.

          I would say there is a big difference between each.

        • #3322921

          I agree.

          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to Once you make changes, you are in the wrong

          BUT – I can tell you that I don’t intend to stand by and allow some ignorant jerk increase my chance of receiving virii and spam.

          Nope, not gonna do it.

          Now, is it right to change the stuff. Probably not. If it was a secure network, then it is completely wrong. That line I won’t cross. Because at least there was attempt there. That would be the point I would attempt to contact an admin of the network.

          But I see it as this. Once your radio waves cross into my path, they belong to me. What I do with them from that point on is the users fault for giving me their signal. If they didn’t want me to have it, they should have done something to prevent it.

          I can tell you this much. My router, not an expensive one, has options to prevent wireless changes. Therefore, if MY router has it, and it’s not that great of a router, then I’m SURE that there are plenty other users out there that have that also… 2 mouse clicks and you’re safe…

          But that was on page 18 of the manual… Most people don’t want to get past the “quick install” card… If that…

        • #3322916

          Only one thing…

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to I agree.

          “But I see it as this. Once your radio waves cross into my path, they belong to me.”

          That would be for read only. Sending requests back onto their hardware would then be violating your own rule, using that logic.

        • #3322910

          Not in my insane world… ;p

          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to Only one thing…

          I guess then I can rationalize this. Your waves pass into my house. Your waves belong to me. So in essense, so does your router. So if I screw with it, I feel better now as I’m only screwing with my stuff anyhow…

          Thanks for allowing me the chance to rationalize that to myself. 🙂

        • #3322626

          It depends on intent

          by danag429 ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          When I was a child, our house served as a shortcut to another road. We installed a gate in the back yard, so the kids could go through and not have to walk around.

          There was no sign saying “shortcut”. If the kids found it, then what was the harm in their walking across the property?

          The same way, if there’s an unsecured wireless network, you’re not hurting the owners by using it. If you hack into their machines, then you’ve crossed the line, but if they have password protected the accounts on their machines, they probably won’t even notice someone using their wireless setup. The airwaves are public territory, and if you don’t want anyone using your network, you can secrue it.

          In my opinion, that’s kind of mean. Why not let people connect if they are in the lobby? Is it costing you anything?

        • #3323544


          by andypiesse9 ·

          In reply to Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          Surely by changing it you are breaking the law as you are causing criminal damage.

    • #3327709

      I think people need to get real

      by maxwell edison ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Not to point fingers at anybody, but for Pete’s sake, some people come across as taking the moral high-ground over something as harmless and innocent as accessing a wide-open network connection while sitting in the lobby of an office building. I suppose these are the same people who drive EXACTLY the speed limit in the left lane of the freeway.

      If anybody thinks this is wrong, then I suppose they’ve never recorded a friend’s CD so they could listen to it on a road trip. I suppose they’ve never recorded a television program to view at a later time. I suppose they’ve never gone even one mile over the speed limit. I suppose they’ve never sneaked into a private party. (Try it sometime. Especially a wedding party where everyone will assume you’re with the “other” side.) I suppose they’ve never parked on the side of the road to watch the movie at the local drive-in theater. (Okay, I’m old enough to have seen movies at drive-in theaters — lots of them.) Geesh, if it’s not illegal, and if the “no harm no foul” rule can apply, what the heck does it matter?

      Besides, who’s to say that whoever “owns” that network connection didn’t consider this possibility when it was configured, and just didn’t care enough about it to make the effort to secure it? sMoRtY made a good point about his neighbor infringing on HIS air space. Yea, and turn down your stereo while you’re at it. Besides, I don’t want the RIAA to come down on me for listening to your music without a license.

      No, Ned was not “hijacking”. Heck, to even call it “trespassing” is a real stretch. All he was doing was listening to someone else’s music because THEY had the volume turned up high enough for him to hear.

      To make anything sinister out of this is like making a mountain out of a molehill. In fact, this isn’t even up to a molehill.

      • #3327696

        Three things:

        by dafe2 ·

        In reply to I think people need to get real

        One – You forgot to mention seatbelts. Two – Did you REALLY watch the movie at the drive-in?
        Three – I still remember getting through in the trunk on a few occasions as I’m sure you do too.

        Anyway, there’s a big diference between free surfing and malicious intent.

        You mentioned putting out access points knowing they were insecure. We do exactly that.(honeypots) It seems to keep the scumbags busy surfing and away from the ‘real’ thing. LOL

        If someone happens upon them (an honest person) & it proves usefull/helpfull to them……well, no harm done.

        • #3327686

          On the drive-in theater

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Three things:

          Whether or not I watched the movie depended on who I drove into the drive-in with. And being the trunk-guy wasn’t that bad, was it? A cold (or maybe hot) beer that we bought illegally in the HUGE trunk of someone’s parent’s 65′ Buick was quite an adventure.

        • #3327666

          And a couple of bucks in gas

          by dafe2 ·

          In reply to On the drive-in theater

          You could get a LOT of beer & a few bodies in the truck of an Olds Delta ’88 too!

          And how about driving arround all night on about 5 bucks worth of gas……..or two weeks in a Mini Austin LOL

        • #3323161

          Am I the only one who removed a speaker?

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to On the drive-in theater

          from the back pannel in the car so you could reach into the cooler in the trunk without having to keep popping the trunk?

          Am I only one to put Jack Daniels into a ziplock baggie and stick it in my pants to get booze into a concert? Yeah, I got a package for you baby…

          I doubt it.

          And the point was well made, that it is your intent on what you do with that access.

      • #3327658


        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to I think people need to get real

        Did I come across that way?

        All I’m trying to convey, I suppose, is yea, shouldn’t relly do that sort of thing – but hell, I do it, too.

        Maybe it’s more wrong when it’s intended to be more wrong – but I’m not really willing to draw the line and enforce it.

        • #3327654

          No one really “came across” that way

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to ouch

          I was just taking a little “literary liberty”.

      • #3327630


        by gralfus ·

        In reply to I think people need to get real

        If the person using the access is not bothering the company/gov’t who provided the open link, then they probably don’t give a rip that you are on their network. If they do care, then they need to get a real network admin who regularly scans for open portals. Either way, if you aren’t messing with their stuff and only going to the internet, then you are probably safe. If they don’t know there is on open access point, they probably won’t notice your use of it either.

      • #3327547

        What’s wrong with obeying the speed limit?

        by thechas ·

        In reply to I think people need to get real


        I OFTEN drive in the left lane at or below the posted speed limit.

        We have a large number of left lane on and off ramps here.

        I have the choice of being a criminal for driving faster than the posted speed, or following the law and making the lawbreakers mad.
        Of course, with traffic being as it is, I often end up needing to get into the left lane several miles ahead of my exit since fast traffic will not allow a driver at the speed limit to merge.

        The left lane should be for those who wish to travel at the posted speed limit.
        The right lane for those who wish to drive slower.

        P.S. Yes, I am a reformed speeder. I have trained myself to NOT drive faster than the posted speed limit on nearly every road.

        P.P.S. We have a few 2 lane roads around here with speed limits much lower than the average driver wants to follow. I truly love driving just below the posted speed limit with 15 or 20 cars backed up behind me.

        My point, if we are a nation of laws, why don’t we follow the laws we have?

        If everyone choose to follow instead of stretch the laws, we would not have the litigation problems and large corporate legal staffs that we have.


        • #3327544

          “Blocking the Flow of Traffic” Law

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to What’s wrong with obeying the speed limit?

          There’s a new law in Colorado that will ticket people who block the “normal flow of traffic” while travelling in the left lane, regardless of the speed limit and/or the speed at which that driver is traveling.

          And it really doesn’t pay:

          My “left lane” comment was not intended to apply to left-lane exits. Of course that would require left-lane driving; that goes without saying. It was intended to apply to those who presume to be the “almighty enforcer”, forcing those behind them to drive slower than they desire, or forcing them to pass on the right.

          The right lane is for driving at or below the speed limit. The left lane is for passing. Personally, I think that people who, on open Interstate highways, drive in the left lane are not only extremely rude, but are extremely dangerous as well.

          You may disagree with Colorado’s new law and/or the notion that left-lane driving is for passing. But who was behind it? The Colorado State Patrol.

          You should really consider being a safer driver instead of the enforcer of how you would like other people to live.

        • #3327518

          We have a much more confusing system

          by thechas ·

          In reply to “Blocking the Flow of Traffic” Law

          In Michigan, the rule of the left lane is for passing ONLY applies to road with only 2 lanes in each direction.

          If there are 3 or more lanes for your side of the road, you can use whichever lane you desire.
          Of course, this results in drivers who weave through traffic continuously. It can be very tricky to judge if the driver behind you is going to allow you to change lanes or swoop around you.

          In traffic, from a left lane on-ramp, it can be several miles before I have a safe opening to move to the right while driving at a safe speed. Let alone the speed limit.

          I don’t mind the concept of ticketing drivers who hog the left lane so long as it is coupled with increased enforcement of both the speed limit and the basic speed law.

          On the main North South highway here, it is problematic to use the right lane except just before your exit.
          The on-ramps are just too short for anything less than a Viper to reach traffic speed before they need to merge.

          If you remember the precision driving teams that frequented county fairs in the 60’s, the aggressive drivers around here would be bored by the large safety margins those teams used.

          Just as I prefer to set up a PC for stable rather than fastest performance, I choose following the law and making safe maneuvers on the road rather then trying to see just how many cars I can pass.


        • #3327506

          Road Rage

          by thechas ·

          In reply to “Blocking the Flow of Traffic” Law

          I find it interesting that the typical response to road rage is to place more restrictions on law abiding motorists.

          By making laws that open up the roads for aggressive drivers all we do is embolden them to be much more aggressive.

          If we continue down this path, we will end up limiting responsible drivers to off hour travel only. Just so the aggressive drivers can break as many traffic laws as they desire without being inconvenienced by having to follow a driver who has the nerve to drive in a safe and legal manner.

          Instead of attempting to control the dangerous aggressive driver, we take the easy path of placing tighter restrictions on those drivers who responsibly obey the traffic laws.


        • #3322876

          I can’t believe you’re from MI…

          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to Road Rage

          I compare the jerkoff cellphone talking, latte sipping, SUV driving, 58 in a 60 in the left lane punks where I’m from to the great drivers of MI… It makes me feel better to know that in MI there are people who really know how to drive… But you post what you posted and you’re throwing me for a loop…

          I’m from Michigan BTW… Hence my thoughts…

          Whenever I’ve been in Michigan all I have observed are a normal flow of traffic. Slower users in the middle and right lanes. Faster drivers in the left lane. When someone comes up behind you going faster, the slower driver gets over to let the faster one by and then continues on their way… I think I only saw maybe two or three exceptions to the rule…

          Dude, you sound RUDE…

          Did you ever think that it’s drivers like you that START road rage??? Consider that for a second.

          Think of this, you are playing holier than though and telling ME I can’t do what I WANT to do. You aren’t my boss. It’s my risk to drive fast. It’s my cat and mouse game with the cops. You have NO say in the matter.

          By you driving slow and holding up 15-20 cars, have you ever considered that doing that creates an unsafe driver that just wants to get around the asshole in the front so they can continue on?

          The speed limit where I’m at is 60. I usually go 64-65. But if I see a jerk holding up traffic, I will go 90-130 just to get the chance to cut them off and ruin their day as much as they are ruining mine.

          The flow of traffic is one thing, but being that “one person” is unfair to the rest of the world. You want to go slow (exiting and entering are different) get your ass OVER…

          It’s not about going after aggressive drivers. You are making drivers aggressive by your rude behavior. Start to show a little common courtesy. Do you like being treated like crap? Then why would you do it to others? I’ll bet when people do let you in, you don’t even wave to say thank you do you? You just expect it as your right…

          Else, you may see me cut you off one day and then slam on my brakes and make you follow ME at 35 MPH until I feel like we’ve gone slow long enough and then I’ll stop you and confront you… And if it’s not me, it’ll be someone else, I think you get the point I’m making here… (more of example).

        • #3323573

          D34N skippy its my business!

          by bhunsinger ·

          In reply to I can’t believe you’re from MI…

          How fast you are going on a road affects everyone on it! It may be you God and the Cops when there’s no traffic but every driver has a responisiblity to avoid colloisions. I drive 5 miles over the speed limit to pass trucks in the left lane. Am I being ‘rude’ to those who want to drive 80 mph? I think its rude when they hover 10 feet behind me.

          Oof, that button was the one inserted by the manager of the Driving school I work at part time.

        • #3323340

          Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to D34N skippy its my business!

          and when you pass, I’ll bet you get right back over again right?

          the left lane is NOT to be travelled in. It is a passing lane.

        • #3323600

          Where have I heard that before?

          by wwwebster ·

          In reply to Road Rage

          Oh, yeah, now I know…

          substitute ‘gun owner’ for every instance of ‘driver’ (in your post), and you are parroting what (we) law-abiding, gun owners have been saying for years.

          You are correct, of course.

        • #3327351

          Nothing’s wrong with obeying the speed limit

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to What’s wrong with obeying the speed limit?

          But I’m also a realist, and I know that not all people will obey the speed limit. And if I happened to be in the left lane, and one of them approaches me at a rate of speed higher than what I’m travelling, I’ll show a little courtesy, instead of contempt, and move over to let them safely pass.

        • #3322873

          Common Courtesy!!!

          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to Nothing’s wrong with obeying the speed limit

          What max posted is a HUGE example of that.

          That’s all it is. Nothing more. It’s treat others as you wish to be treated!

        • #3323183

          Slower Traffic Keep Right

          by montgomery gator ·

          In reply to What’s wrong with obeying the speed limit?

          On the Interstate Highways, there are signs that say “Slower Traffic Keep Right”, which means that if there is someone coming up behind you going faster, and you can get over to the right lane safely, then you need to get over. Even if you are going at the speed limit, I interpret that to mean you need to get over. People who drive in the left lane and do not let people pass are known as “Left Lane Vigilantes” (Do a Google Search), and create a road hazard by bottling up traffic that otherwise would be flowing freely. The left lane is for faster traffic. The right lane is for those driving slower than the left lane traffic. One thing that really puzzles me is that on highways with 3 lanes, some people use the middle lane as the slow lane instead of the right lane (which is often open), and I find it easier to pass on the right. In this case, the middle lane should be used for traffic faster than right lane traffic, but slower than left lane traffic.

          If there is a left lane exit ahead I need to take and I move to the left lane to take it, I speed up to the speed of the traffic flow in the left lane instead of tying up traffic, and use the exit ramp to slow down, not the highway.

        • #3323170

          Middle laners

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Slower Traffic Keep Right

          People who drive in the middle lane of a three lane [one way] highway are usually being safe by staying out of the on/off merge lane. Those people find it is much easier to stay in the middle lane than to constantly move over to allow traffic to merge.

          The idea is that merging traffic will be slower than the speed limit.

          Passing on the right is then an additional hazard, as you should always attempt to pass on the left [in the US and likewise configured countries, of course]. In additional to surprizing the drivers not expecting you to pass on the right, you cut off the merge lane.

          Should someone be a left lane vigilante, the rule is, I believe, to flash your lights at them – from a safe distance. Becoming a left-lane-enforcer by tailgating a left-lane-vigilante does more than just compound the problem…

        • #3324297

          Passing on the right

          by montgomery gator ·

          In reply to Middle laners

          I agree, one should avoid passing on the right, even on 3 lanes. However, when the left lane is clogged up by someone going slower than the flow of traffic, and the middle lane is full, then the right lane is the only option. I do not flash “left lane vigilantes”, because they will get even more obstinate and less likely to move over. Same with tailgating them (being a “left-lane enforcer” as you put it, which has its own hazards. Only option is to be patient, and hope either they get a clue and move over, or wait for a safe break in traffic and pass on the right, which I would rather avoid, but have to do, occasionally, due to clueless people in the left lane.

          Regarding merging traffic, people should use the ramp to get up to speed, not wait until they get on the highway. That is what the ramps are intendend for, unless my high school drivers ed teacher was wrong. It is the responsibility of people getting on the highway to match speeds, not the other way around. Of course, I do move from the right to the center (or left as the case may be) if there is room to do it safely to let someone onto the highway.

        • #3324234


          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Passing on the right

          Yeah, but those ramps are designed for a mustang to get up to the speed limit – not a yugo to the speed of traffic 😉

        • #3322951


          by montgomery gator ·

          In reply to haha

          My 4-cylinder Saturn SL2 has no problem getting up to speed on Interstate ramps, and it is not a muscle car in any way 🙂

        • #3322869


          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to haha

          As well as my Hyundai Elantra 2.0L 4Cyl…

          I almost have a small enough engine to be powered by girbles, but it does me just fine…

          Just remember, it’s the right peddle, the accelerator. Magikal things happen when you press it down… ;p

        • #3322868


          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to haha

          As well as my Hyundai Elantra 2.0L 4Cyl…

          I almost have a small enough engine to be powered by girbles, but it does me just fine…

          Just remember, it’s the right peddle, the accelerator. Magikal things happen when you press it down… ;p

        • #3322867


          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to haha

          As well as my Hyundai Elantra 2.0L 4Cyl…

          I almost have a small enough engine to be powered by girbles, but it does me just fine…

          Just remember, it’s the right peddle, the accelerator. Magikal things happen when you press it down… ;p

        • #3322866

          Multipost – I apologize

          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to haha

          I don’t know what happened, but I have three of the one that I tried to post.

          I don’t think I did it, but if I did, I apologize for the nastiness…

        • #3323446


          by montgomery gator ·

          In reply to haha

          My 2.6 litre Saturn is only slightly more powerful than your Elantra. Try replacing your gerbils with Squirrels, like I did 🙂

        • #3323035

          What we need

          by thechas ·

          In reply to Slower Traffic Keep Right

          What we need to both stop road rage and eliminate the reason for left lane vigilantes is ZERO tolerance enforcement of the traffic laws.

          When I first started driving, the sheriff in a neighboring county was known for strict enforcement of the speed limit.
          Nobody from the area drove even 1 MPH over the speed limit in his county.

          An interesting side effect of the high visibility of the road patrol officers was that this county also had one of the lowest crime rates in the area.

          I would love to see every US city, county and state institute a zero tolerance traffic law enforcement protocol.

          Otherwise, if you are not going to enforce your laws, repeal them.


        • #3323004

          Zero tolerance

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to What we need

          With all due respect, Chas, you seem to have zero tolerance for people who don’t live up to your notion of how people should live. You have voiced so much opinion about how you think government should be exerting control over individuals in so many areas of their lives, that I have to wonder about your real desires for America.

          You have zero tolerance for people who drive even one mile over the speed limit, but show a boat-load of tolerance for terrorists.

          How about supporting a world-wide ZERO TOLERANCE policy towards terrorism?

        • #3324156

          Law breakers

          by thechas ·

          In reply to Zero tolerance


          I look at a speeding motorist much as you do a government social program.

          The speeding motorist is taking money out of my pocket!

          First, because a speeding car uses more fuel per mile, speeding wastes precious resources and raises the price of fuel. And worsens the trade balance.

          Second, when a speeding driver has a collision, the resulting damage is worse than it would have been at a slower speed. This raises my car insurance rates. True, it raises their rates more than mine. But, part of the rate is based on regional loses. Fewer, lower speed collisions in an area result in lower rates for everyone.
          Also, in many states you pay into a catastrophic fund that pays the ongoing costs for disabled victims.
          Then there is the cost for emergency services.

          Third, a speeding motorist increases wear on the public road system. Not from going fast in itself but from panic stops and radical lane changes.

          I have seen zero tolerance programs improve traffic safety.

          Zero tolerance against terrorists has worked well for Israel hasn’t it!
          But, that should be a discussion for another thread.


        • #3322863

          Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to Law breakers

          Usually the speeding accidents come from the speeder having to do something out of the norm to get around the person who is holding up the traffic…

          At least from all of the accidents that I have witnessed… There’s usually a catalyst to the accidents.

          And if I’m not mistaken, I read somewhere that the optimal speed to drive to maintain the best fuel efficiency is 65MPH…

        • #3323547

          Out of touch?

          by jtakiwi ·

          In reply to Law breakers

          This statement is absurd “Third, a speeding motorist increases wear on the public road system. Not from going fast in itself but from panic stops and radical lane changes.” Uhh, no. Stopping fast or changing lanes does not cause wear and tear on wellpaved roads. What causes it is freeze/thaw cycles (if applicable) and overloaded trucks. Sure, speed kills, but look at Germany. They drive faster, use less fuel (mostly due to higher milage requirements and cripling taxes on engines over a certain displacement), have lower accident rates (although when there is one on the autobahn, it is a doozey). They have what is known as “personal responsibility”. That term will be foriegn those who embrace the ideals that Gov’t should run most, if not all aspects of their lives. It worked so well for Russia. I’ll take a little wasted fuel, and a broken traffic law in order to live in a free society. It is much better than the alternative.

        • #3323518

          Breaking and road wear

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Law breakers

          Breaking does, in fact, affect the road.

          Ever notice the bumpiness of a street just where the traffic light is? This is usually caused by trucks breaking for lights – their weight pushes the asphalt into ripples.

        • #3323509

          another problem with your “theory”

          by buschman_007 ·

          In reply to Law breakers

          Fuel efficency is not based solely on speed. At reasonable speeds gearing and an engines power curve play a much bigger role in fuel efficiency than speed. At higher speeds(like over 100mph) wind resistance plays a much bigger role in mpg do to the eingine wasting a lot of power to just push through the wind. But at speeds under 70 mph it’s all about the engine/gearing configuration.

          Acceleration wastes far more gas than maintaining speed. So in essence, you driving at or below the speed limit, forcing drives to slow down and then quickly accelerate around you… is wasting more gas than if you politely moved over and let them by.


        • #3323455

          Fault in your argument

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Law breakers

          The legal-limit-driver isn’t forcing you to drive fast, break, or speed up again. The point is that if you’re driving within the legally defined limits, you won’t be doing all of that.

        • #3324872


          by thechas ·

          In reply to Law breakers

          First, those who wish to respond or vent, please move to this thread:

          I am not as discourteous as some of the comments have implied.

          I only get into the left lane when I have a legitimate reason to.

          Yes, in heavy traffic, I may feel the need to prepare to exit several miles back. Even then, I only change lanes when there is a gap in traffic. Typically, I am in the left lane for less than 3 minutes.

          Yes, I may spend a little more time in the left lane than some of you like.
          However, if the speeders would show a little more courtesy, the legal drivers would not need to change lanes so tepidly.

          1. Give us space. Allow us to do as we learned in drivers training and wait until we see the vehicle we are passing in our mirror so we can safely move back to the right.
          Also, PLEASE wait until we are all the way into the right lane before you close the gap between us.

          2. When we have our left signal on near an exit, let us change lanes and exit safely. It is only after we are forced to miss our exit a few times that we start getting into the left lane early.

          I am saddened by the number of people who take light of THEIR traffic laws.

          After some thought, I think I understand why.
          Speeding and other traffic violations are the only laws you can break with little or no repercussions.
          It is the only opportunity you have to strike out against the system.

          Why not channel your energies into something that creates a positive change?

          Now for the Karma:

          May all of you speed demons spend your next trip behind an Amish funeral procession.


        • #3323622

          Law and culture

          by danag429 ·

          In reply to Slower Traffic Keep Right

          I live in Massachusetts. I was driving along at the usual traffic speed of around 75 miles per hour in the left lane. I was daydreaming and didn’t notice the cop behind me.

          So he put on his lights, rolled down the window, and yelled at me for being rude and not paying attention to my surroundings. No ticket, just a dressing-down for not being courteous.

          The speed limit is 65. On a sunny dry day, the culture seems to accept 70 to 75 miles per hour as acceptable. If the police were really concerned about the speed limit, they’d go around giving lots of tickets.

          So, it seems that if I were to set up a wireless network, and protect the machines, I could leave it open for anyone to use without it making the slightest difference to me.

        • #3323530

          Middle Lane

          by andypiesse9 ·

          In reply to Slower Traffic Keep Right

          In the UK drivers who stay in the middle lane are called MLM’s Middle Lane Morons.

        • #3322905

          Left lane is for passing ONLY!

          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to What’s wrong with obeying the speed limit?

          Chas, I’m sorry to read this…

          Hopefully I won’t come up on your butt. I have no problems kissing the jerk that wants to go slow in the fast lane…

          Some call it road rage. I call it “forcing sensibility”.

          If you don’t want to go with the flow of traffic then you are causing a jam. Move over a lane. It’s not too hard. When I feel slow, I chill in the slow lane. Nothing wrong with it.

          BUT slow in the fast lane, not cool. It’s not fair to make everyone else take there time just because you aren’t in a hurry.

          As for following the laws. There is a law against blocking the flow of traffic. If the speed limit is 70 and the flow is 78 and you want to go 65, you are breaking the law too… Just something to think about….

          Another thing I noticed:
          “I truly love driving just below the posted speed limit with 15 or 20 cars backed up behind me.”

          This is just some advice, I don’t mean it threateningly…

          I would really think twice about doing that too… I have followed people home for doing that, and run them off of the road. (I have some days that I am a VERY bad person to be around (though not for about 6 months) and if I do it, I’m sure there are others). I’m only telling you this to hopefully prevent you from experiencing a true a$$hole.

        • #3322778

          New Thread

          by thechas ·

          In reply to Left lane is for passing ONLY!

          Interesting comments.

          When someone parks on my bumper, I follow what I was taught in drivers training and slow down.

          I do try my best to drive at or just below the posted speed limit. If treated respectfully, I will go up to 5 MPH over when I need to use the left lane.

          I have done such a good job at training myself to drive the speed limit that I now need to watch the needle so I don’t go too slow!

          Anyhow, I think my comments and the responses have corrupted this thread enough.

          Here is a link to a new thread for those who wish to pursue this subject further.

          Looking forward to more interesting comments.


        • #3324801

          I am that asshole

          by cybrsage13 ·

          In reply to Left lane is for passing ONLY!

          I am that asshole who has forced left-lane vigilanties off the road. I have managed to get infront of them and slammed my brakes…my 7 year old 100,000 mile car has has many brand new back ends placed on it, thanks to left-lane vigilanties.

        • #3322625

          In Ontario, you could be charged

          by jamesrl ·

          In reply to What’s wrong with obeying the speed limit?

          There is a law in Ontario that you cannot do things which impede the flow of traffic, including sitting in the left hand lane at the speed limit when other want to overtake(Overtaking on the right is also illegal but rarely enforced).

          There was a case where in a protest, a couple of drivers drove side by side down a divided highway(2 lanes each direction) at the speed limit intentionally to block traffic. They were charged, convicted, appealled and lost the appeal.

          Every year there is a blitz where the police look for “left lane bandits” instead of speeders. And yes they can be charged, even though they are doing the speed limit or less. Why do we have these laws? Because its safer to allow some speeding than to force people to pass on the right. I will note that its rare to have left lanes in Ontarion that turn into exits.

          In Ontario, the highways were built to a standard which allows safe operation at a higher speed than the speed limit. And the police do not enforce the speed laws on multilane divided highways until you are substantially over the limit of 100 KMs per hour. 120 is safe, 130 is risky, 140 you will be ticketed.

          There are times when speeding is accepted here – if you need to speed up to pass a truck who blocks your visibility or whose wake is buffeting your car, you won’t get stopped.

          I think there are other practises that warrant more close police attention, like unsafe lane changes, and following too close. I’d rather be on the road with speeders who pay attention than slow drivers on cell phones who absent mindedly change lanes without checking their blind spot.


        • #3323618

          Autobahn Experience

          by schrödinger’s cat ·

          In reply to What’s wrong with obeying the speed limit?

          On the German Autobahn there is, in most places, no posted speed limit. I drove in Germany for 10 years at speeds in excess of 150mph. In those ten years I saw perhaps 3 serious accidents on the Autobahn. The police STRICTLY enforce left lane laws (left lane only for passing, no passing on the right, etc), drunk driving laws, and vehicle safey inspections. When I came back to the US, within the first 3 months I saw three serious accidents on the highways. What could be the difference? It is certainly not speed that kills…but what is it? I never saw a person reading the paper, putting on makeup, or eating a hamburger while driving in Germany. The drivers there are serious about what they are doing…and they are attentive. Is it just America?

        • #3323567

          If I were in one of those 15 or 20 cars behind you….

          by mmoran3180 ·

          In reply to What’s wrong with obeying the speed limit?

          … I’d note your license plate number and then call the cops (voice-activated cell phone equipped with headset so both hands remain on the wheel) to report a possible impaired driver. Sure, the cop who pulls you over presumably finds a BAC of 0.0 and lets you go but hey, you’re out of everybody’s way now ;>) And suitably repaid for the nuisance you caused the rest of us.

        • #3323519

          You, sir, suck!

          by buschman_007 ·

          In reply to What’s wrong with obeying the speed limit?

          It’s called being inconsiderate! I’m all for you obeying the law to the letter. But to sit in the left lane for miles before your “left exit” *rolleyes* is purely inconsiderate. You don’t care if you inconvenience others. I think your indifference to your fellow man is more of a disservice to those around you than breaking the speed limit by 5 mph.


          p.s. It feels so good to finally say that to a person like yourself. 🙂

        • #3324937

          Reason to speed

          by thechas ·

          In reply to What’s wrong with obeying the speed limit?

          First, especially considering the vituperative nature of some of the posts, let us please move this way off-topic issue to another thread.

          I will not read or respond to any more posts in this thread!

          Second, I am not as discourteous as my comments have been interpreted.
          Please read the first post in the new thread for clarification.

          Finally, there is only 1 acceptable reason for ANY driver to drive faster than the posted speed limit:

          IF (and only if) a life is on the line, AND your getting to your destination mere seconds sooner will have a positive impact on the person who’s life is in danger, then by all means, God Speed!

          Otherwise, SLOW down and obey the law!

          Remember, post your comments in this new thread:


      • #3327401

        The real scope of wireless Networking

        by zczc23119 ·

        In reply to I think people need to get real

        I make reference to a recent article in The Washington Post ? Tec news ? in which it was reveled a small town in North America was the first to grant each and every one of it citizens the right and facility to connect to the whole town wireless network. So far this debate has been centered into a corporate situation and I would like to inform you that now a whole small city town offered this service. I do not want to discuss the right nor wrongs of wireless networking in any sense now as after reading this informed article of late I now realized that the fact that you can connect to a wireless network goes far beyond the scope of a corporate office.

        Certainly we enter a Brave New World now this context, with an open mind I am not sure I even want to examine the merits of wireless networking but the fact remains if you do not want it you can always disable the service, although power that be initiate the service by default on a default new installation.

        I wish every administrator of a network, whether it be home, corporate or now township a full and long life for their decisions will dictate who can see what and what they can change or connect to and in the respect to Data security and in the current direction taken by PC applications we again examine and revisit a Main Frame/PC client situation where it is deemed necessary to clearly define the role of the user, their access and permissions.

      • #3322919


        by mrafrohead ·

        In reply to I think people need to get real

        Maxwell, I never knew you had it in you!!!

        This one caught me totally off guard ;p

        I see your comment about smorty, so I guess I will read the rest of this thread to see what was said. I have only read the original post and my side thread, and now your post… So I’m sure I”ll pollute the rest of this shortly.. ;p

        But I just had to drop a note about what you said!

        I can’t believe you’ve snuck into weddings, I’da never guessed it.

        I see it as this. If a network is open, and you attempt to access the admin part and it’s locked, then its open on purpose. That’s a different story than a AP that is pulled out of hte box and you can type in admin and get in…

        That just makes my blood boil because you know that smuck is running boxes probably with no AV, common sense, etc…. But at the same time, gives me the ability to download my Kazaa on someone elses dime (and Ip).. ;p So in the long run, maybe they aren’t as bad as I think… ;p

        wocka wocka

        Oh and I’ll send you some earplugs so you dont’ have to worry about that Pesky RIAA. I’m sure after they hear that you’ve heard music that you didn’t pay for, you’ll be getting a bill. Even if you weren’t the one that was “playing” the music… you still heard it… ;o)

      • #3322643

        Ah, finally, some clear thought

        by erich1010 ·

        In reply to I think people need to get real

        Yes, I agree with you totally.

        People can build houses with doors or without doors. If they build them without doors, they can expect that, from time to time, someone might wander in. Of course, if someone is in someone else’s house, doors or no doors, you must respect their property. And even if they have no doors, if they have just a sign saying, “Stay out”, that should be respected, too.

        I have a wireless network, and I leave it wide open. My computers are secure enough, that any passerby probably isn’t going to mess with much. If it helps someone, hey great! Though, I would expect that they don’t mess with my computers or try screwing with the routers. Also, I think it would be rude of someone using it on a permanent basis without asking me.

        I’ve roamed other people’s networks. I have a laptop with a wireless connection and find it useful for accessing the net. One time it really came in handy was when looking for a new place to live. I could go into a neighborhood, bring up the listings near there, then check the houses out. Of course, I never did anything bad to the network of the person kind enough to leave it open for me. If there was a way of thanking the person who left it open for me, I would have.

        If people are leaving their wireless networks open because they are generous, that’s great. If they are leaving their wireless networks open because they don’t know better, they probably should learn more about what they are using. In any case, others should respect the property of others and not abuse it. However, using the network for what it was built for is not considered abuse, in my book.

        The Internet is not the real world. It is a different environment and it runs under different rules. In a sense, it is much safer in some ways and much more dangerous in others. On one hand, you have much information that is just given away freely. On the other hand, if you have information you wish to protect, you must be diligent, because all the thieves in the world are at your door. In real life, you can’t hang out in a store and chat about its merchandise without some clerk eventually shooing you away. On the Internet, you are welcomed to do so, and you might even have access to people in the store who can really do something about your suggestions and requests. In real life, trespassing is very straightforward. There are definite property lines and you know when you are on someone else’s property. In the Internet, this concept is much more abstract. In real life, where you are welcomed and not welcomed on a property is visible. You probably won’t get shot using the walkway up to the door, but you might get in trouble walking around a fenced yard. On the Internet, you might wander into private property without knowing it.

        Right now, there is no real way to know if an open wireless site was put there on purpose unless the owner goes out of their way to state so. However, it is fairly easy for an owner to say “Stay Out”. All it takes is a switch to turn on the wireless security features. Therefore, I use the wireless networks, silently thanking those who leave them open on purpose and trying not to hurt those too ignorant of computers to know either way. Either way, I try not to use too much of the bandwidth and don’t mess with their computers.

      • #3323404

        Breaking the law is Okay?

        by sql_joe ·

        In reply to I think people need to get real


        Wow. You think its OK to break the law because well…its only speeding after all. Tell that to the hundreds of people who die each year and their loved ones….its only speeding after all.

        As to the hijacking issue. I do not know the law, but if its being broadcast publicly, is their not a chance that it wasn’t intended as a public connection? In this specific example, I don’t see how we can call it hijacking when given that:

        1) There do exist public access networks;
        2) There is no way to differentiate a private network from a public one if there is no security or wanring notice applied.
        3) The user in question specifically did not attempt to hack or fake a log in.

        I also know for us, in order to have protection under the law, we had to put a notice on all our systems that appear at login stating the system was for the use of XXXX company Employees only…etc etc.

        So Max, I agree with you about hijacking, but I still don’t think its okay to break the law, just because you don’t think a particular law is important. Some people think they shouldn’t have to pay for computer software too – is it okay for them to copy from their friends? Who should decide what laws we obey and don’t obey? If everyone decides on their own what laws are important enough to obey, then why have any at all? Where do we draw the line?

        • #3323301

          Yes it is – kind of – maybe – with conditions

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Breaking the law is Okay?

          There’s a difference between “breaking the law”, per se, and acting carelessly or recklessly.

          In some states driving a motorcycle without a helmet is “breaking the law”. But hey, if a guy is opposed to it, and he’s willing to suffer the consequences if stopped (by either a police officer or a tree), then there’s no real harm done. The same might apply to driving 85 mph on a 75 mph Interstate in the middle of Montana. But no, I sure wouldn’t condone driving 85 MPH in my neighborhood or through various city business districts. While one might simply be considered pushing the limit a little bit, the other would be recklessly endangering others. I think the former is okay, but the latter is not.

          But that’s speaking for myself. I don’t presume to judge another because he thinks differently. If a person wants to follow the “letter of the law”, regardless of what that law may be, knock yourself out. And if that makes a person feel morally superior to others, well, that’s his problem, not mine.

          Sometimes laws are stupid and they don’t make sense. It’s lawful for two 18 year-olds to get married and consummate that marriage, but they can’t “watch the deed” being performed by others on the “big screen” until they’re 21 — that’s stupid. It’s lawful for an 18 year old to join the US Marines, but it’s unlawful for the same guy to buy a beer — that’s stupid.

          More stupid laws:

          Did you know that there is a law on the books in Tennessee that says a man must run in front of a vehicle that a woman is driving — and that car may not go faster than five miles an hour!

          But there is a GOOD Tennessee law that actually states that driving is not to be done while asleep.

          And also in Tennessee, you can’t shoot any game from a moving automobile — other than whales, of course.

          Did you know that in Ohio, if you ignore a public speaker on Decoration Day (Memorial Day) to such an extent as to publicly play croquet or pitch horseshoes within one mile of the speaker’s stand, you can be fined $25.00.

          And since one of the strictest “law abiders” in this thread is from Michigan:

          It is against the law to swear in front of women and children in the state of Michigan.

          Bit it IS legal for a robber to file a law suit, if he or she got hurt in your house while robbing it.

          And in Michigan, a woman isn’t allowed to cut her own hair without her husband’s permission.

          In my state and/or city:

          It is actually illegal for car dealers to show cars on a Sunday. (Yes, all dealerships are closed on Sunday – as are the liquor stores.)

          And it is equally illegal to drive a black car on Sundays. (I wonder if I’m breaking the law by driving my black pickup truck on Sunday?)

          It is unlawful to lend your vacuum cleaner to your next-door neighbor. (There must have been a Hoover dealer on the city council at one time)

          So no, not all laws are created equal. Murder and rape is breaking the law; but so is having your barking dog in the backyard after a certain hour of the evening. To consider those two as equally heinous is silly.

          Personally, I don’t need laws, per se, to be my moral compass. And no, I don’t presume to take the moral high-ground and attempt to dictate such things to others — as long as they are not hurting innocent bystanders in the process. So no, I don’t think that all cases of “breaking the law” makes a person morally inferior to others who might make a different choice. And yes, breaking some laws, in my opinion, is perfectly okay.

        • #3323299

          You know…

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Yes it is – kind of – maybe – with conditions

          I actually quote that MI law to my wife often.

        • #3323297

          And there ought to be another one. . . . .

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to You know…

          ….that says a wife should……, never mind; I won’t go there.

        • #3324949

          I believe that law

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to And there ought to be another one. . . . .

          only exists in my castle at the moment…

        • #3087643

          I agree

          by sql_joe ·

          In reply to Yes it is – kind of – maybe – with conditions

          I agree there are just some very stupid laws on the books,

          AND I agree with you that it is insane that you can die for your country, but you can’t have a drink before you do it. Its also very silly that its legal for people to have sex, but they can’t watch it.

          I’m certainly not trying to take the moral high ground here, nor am I qualified for that role. It just goes back to my original question. Where do we draw the line?

          We have about a teenager a month getting killed locally, why? Because they’re speeding. It doesn’t help when you watch their parents passing illegally and exceeding the speed limit. Then, for some reason, they blame the roads, or the driver being passed (who was driving the limit), or something else YET no one would be dead if all they did was drive the limit. A silly law? If you ask anyone, then the answer is yes. The damage and death toll tell another story.

          As to equality of how heinous a crime is. I can’t answer that – though I kind of thought that’s what sentencing, fines, and level of enforcement were sort of about.


    • #3327624

      Touchy subject

      by house ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I access certain utilities that are work related from home. If I need to switch the device that I have directly attached to the internet, I clear my own host address (public IP) so that I don’t have to wait for the lease to refresh. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong.

      We assign a host address to a device (hardware)… we need to clear the entry in the UBR in order to force the new request immediately. I don’t see a problem with that, but I’ll ask the admin next time (to cover my butt).

    • #3328149

      Interesting situation

      by thechas ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      As I understand this, you entered a building that you normally work at and accessed wireless networks within the building. Correct?

      If so, my first question is what are company policies about network usage?

      Next, were these wireless networks set up by IT departments, or users?
      If set up by users are they in compliance with company policies?

      I see this situation as being a LOT different than other threads on the topic of “war-driving”.

      I do not condone or agree with the concept of war-driving.
      Nor do I agree with people who park near an office building at night and use the wireless LAN for their Internet connection.

      You on the other hand were in a business for a legitimate reason.
      If you normally connect to the company network with a wireless connection, it is not your fault that you were able to make other connections while in the building.

      The only action that I feel you are obligated to take is to inform building security, or the IT department that people have open wireless networks accessible to the public.


      • #3327277


        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to Interesting situation

        Perhaps we’ll get this clarified for us, but I don’t think the building was for only one company. So I suspect the connection was made to a company with offices on the lower floors…

        • #3323222

          correct…multi office building

          by ned rhinelander (cnet) ·

          In reply to Clarification

          sorry for the silence, i have been busy enjoying our blizzard. (2+ feet at my house).

          CNet rents one floor of a building with probably 20 other small clients. CNet’s policy is quite buttoned down: we definitely don’t have open access points, we periodically sweep for unauthorized ones, etc.

          However, we are on a high floor and when i tried to connect from the lobby I didn’t see ours, but I was connected automatically to this other SSID. Incidentally it wasn’t casually obvious which company it belonged to.

          (I can hear it now: “excuse me, where is linksys located”?)

          As one other followup, I setup a wireless network for my friend this weekend. From her house there were over 5 unsecured networks visible, and one was called ‘linksys’. And yes, I did secure her network :>.

          This is a case where the equipment manufacterers (heck, isn’t it just linksys?) really need to address this by setting up reasonable defaults.

        • #3322859


          by mrafrohead ·

          In reply to correct…multi office building

          I also see dlink router through my house occasionally… ;p

          Though after that last time it’s been a few months…

        • #3322775

          Wireless Defaults

          by thechas ·

          In reply to correct…multi office building

          I know why the home networking companies leave the defaults open.

          It’s the same reason that Microsoft continues to dummy down Windows.

          Users just refuse to read the documentation to find the default password and then set up their network.

          In order to control support costs they make the decision to set up the routers so they just plug and play.

          Gee, I wonder if we could start a class action suit because the wireless network companies are leaving so many people open to identity theft?

          (Just kidding)

          Besides, it would never go anywhere. The class would loose their identities to a phishing scheme looking to start a class action.


    • #3328110

      Define of the terms and conditions at hand and how they affect you

      by titssni ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Secure vs unsecured
      Moral vs immoral
      Hijacking vs using
      right vs wrong
      your ideas vs mine
      laws and legislation vs your beliefs

      In situations like this one has to ask questions like those and it boils down to,

      what do you (i) think is thr right thing to do?

      A person setting up a hotspot should know the reason behind doing so an dif they do it and leave it unsecured they should know the consequences for doing so.

      It’s now up to you as the individual who comes across that unsecured network to decide whether or not you will access it and for what reason. At that point it becomes another issue of now that I have access and is using the service how do I react with it. Do I use it usefully or do I screw around and do some messes up stuff.

      Keep in mind that wireless technology was made for that same reason, having access wirelessly from any location within range. If you don’t knw how to setup and configure the tool leave it alone.

      Another way to look at it.

      If I left my house open and the doors open and went for a walk does that tell people i’m giving them access and they can walk in and out as they please?

      This comes down to morals and your personal views as well. It also depends on the situation and location you are in.

      All these point and issues came across in all the posts but it boils down to you the individual and how you decide on how to proceed when you hit that point.

      I have 2 network and I leave one unsecure and secure he other for personal internal use, the unsecured is for anyone who wants to be around the block and need access while outside. his is just because of the area I live in and the people I know in the area. I wouldn’t do this for most areas :-).

      The Suite

      • #3327520

        We leave some open

        by dafe2 ·

        In reply to Define of the terms and conditions at hand and how they affect you

        We leave a few ‘open’ here and there…………

        It keeps less honest people away from the secure side. From time to time consultants use the connections as well.

        Every once in a while it generates a lot of IM’s about ‘what stupid admin set this up’ as they wack away at nothing more than an internet pipe…..fine by me….it seems to keep them busy and amused.

      • #3323187

        If your neighbor has music on,loud can you listen too?

        by jdclyde ·

        In reply to Define of the terms and conditions at hand and how they affect you

        Do you see someone broadcasting an open signal over public airwaves, out into a public area as the same as walking into their house? If I am in my yard and can detect an open signal, is it really illegal to use that signal?

        I would never advocate the use of this to do your downloads or try to “explore” their computers.

        Does anyone know if there is actually a law against this?

      • #3322857

        Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

        by mrafrohead ·

        In reply to Define of the terms and conditions at hand and how they affect you

        well, where I’m from, and open door, is a legal invitation. Whether you meant it or not.

        For example, you knock on my door, I open it to see what you want, you walk in my house. You are legally allowed to be there. Granted I may physically throw you out, but then I am in the wrong, as I commited battery AND you entered legally through my “invitation” of opening the door.

        Scary huh???….

    • #3327310

      Public Airwaves

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      If they are publishing this out without any attempt to conceal or lock it down then it can’t be any more illegal than listening to the radio.

      Now, if you try to access their server, you are talking a whole new ball game.

      Many people are setting up the open access points as a good will, to share bandwidth they aren’t using. Businesses will do this at night, broadcast a signal into a local park. It is running on a DMZ, so there isn’t a real threat to them and they aren’t using the bandwidth.

      If you are walking through the woods, you can keep on walking as long as someone hasn’t clearly posted that it is private property and to stay out. Many security “experts” even claim if you do not have such a “no trespassing” on your logins on your server, anyone trying to get in can.

      The law hasn’t kept up with covering this.

      Be a good neighbor and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about as far as legalities or ettiquitte.

      • #3323487

        Carrying the land analogy further

        by mike fahey ·

        In reply to Public Airwaves

        OK, let’s accept the notion of the frequencies in question being free for public use, and think of it as a national park. However, the park has to be accessed by some means, either a trail, road or land owned by a public entity [local, state or federal] or over private property contingent to it.

        The public entity can set restrictions on access or use through regulations, and generally posts signs to inform potential users of the limits of use. Private landowners can choose to permit or not permit the public to access the park, and have the same right and responsibility to do so, including giving notice.

        In fact, in real estate law, if a landowner makes no effort to post the limits of use, and the public establishes a path, trail or road for access across the property and uses it for a specified length of time [15 years in some states], without objection from the landowner, a public easement is created under law, and the land owner loses the right to limit access to the easement. Now depending on the state, and how strongly property rights are viewed, especially in rural areas, if a property owner puts up a fence 15 years later and a sign prohibiting use, the public must appeal his action in court to protect the easement as a permanent feature.

        To trespass for the sole purpose of access to public facilities is not generally considered an enforceable misdemeanor unless the property owner specifically posts the land. Since the primary issue Ned raises is access, not theft or harm of physical or intellectual property, the biggest issue is the cost of use, which the owner of the system bears. It can be argued that that owner [business or personal] should protect his/her/its interests by limiting use to control the cost, or charging a fee for use, but if they do not, then it is free, albeit a potentially unintended gift. No harm, no foul, and no ethical issue unless the system is otherwise misused by the person who connects to it.

        In summary, every right under law carries with it a responsibility that is inseparable. Failure for whatever reason to exercise that responsibility [negligence] can and will reduce the value of the granted right accordingly, and can create a liability when misused. A similar burden is placed on the owner and the user. Fair and equitable, best kind of law there is.

        Of course, this all hangs on enforcement, which is a separate issue of power to assert and protect rights granted, which is really another discussion…

        • #3323449

          Applying your argument

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Carrying the land analogy further

          Your argument requires that there be no posted usage limits prior to the publicly established path.

          here’s where i see a difference in what you see:

          The SSID is a fence. It is reasonable to expect that a fence denotes a limit of use. For the publc to hop the fence, they must do so knowingly. No single, permenant path is contructed that all the public follow.

          The SSID says “this is the beginning of my property” even though it does not say “You cannot use it” you nevertheless must knowingly chose to ignore the established parameters.

    • #3322850

      Not Hijacking

      by clmoran ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      The air waves in the US are free and if someone has an unsecured wireless connection available, it is free to use. I just wouldn’t recommend calling the homeowner for technical support! =:o)

    • #3322717

      Breaker Breaker

      by brian.harwood ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Anyone call “Breaker Breaker” on a private CB radioconversation lately? If the frequency is free and unsecured then the door ia open. Maybe we should politely ignore it but legally, if you leave your door open then it’s not beraking and entering. If you lock your backup tapes in the safe, then why don’t you secure you wifi too.

    • #3322712

      Wireless Manufacturers much to BLAME

      by robin_graves ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I have been installing wireless routers for some time, since the word is out to “AVERAGE JOE” that
      every 12 year old is scanning hundreds of computers
      24 hours a day to see who is open on the web. It used to be nothing short of ridiculous for Ma and Pa to purchase a firewall router and try to read the manuals and go online to read the FAQs for HELP and
      SUPPORT, and now, with wireless, the situation is worse. There are thousands upon thousands of wireless routers out there, and judging by the huge array on the store shelves, the trend will mushroom – no one wants ethernet cables snaking all over the place…

      Here is my earlier email to DLINK, who supplies thousands of stores with their wireless equipment,
      and the email, although about the wire ethernet,
      is completely applicable…

      I helped one person who put in a DLINK, and then,
      after weeks of frustration, ripped it out, put back a wireless. I can’t imagine how many customers are lost by the manufacturer’s stupidity.

      EMAIL to DLINK:


      After carefully reading thru the CD MANUAL on the
      DI-604, it occured to me that the technical writer
      has his head up his fatty acids.

      The “END USER” of the typical DLINK router is
      a family, with 2.4 kids, 3.1 cars, and 2.7
      computers on cable or ADSL High-Speed….

      All the way thru your “Helpful” manual, you
      list things like:

      RN&t*d Settings :
      ” If you WANT your TCMP246 turned on, you MUST
      make sure that the 9J4H*#G settings is
      set to your ICMP56HtR request number.”

      How the hell does Mom and Pop Joe computer user know if they
      ” WANT ” the TCMP246 turned on?

      Telling them that the TCMP246 is a subnet request
      modifier delimiting protocol packet enhancement filter
      with subnet gateway filters to accept or prevent
      IRT46IEEE router pings, only makes the stupidity of
      your so called ” HELP ” read me’s in the manual even more

      Ma and Pa have 3 computers.
      They want administrative control on their main computer.
      They want Billy to connect to your DLINK hub, from
      his computer in his room. How do they do this? In Eeengleesh?
      They want Salley to connect to your DLINK router, from
      her computer in her room. How do they do this? In Eeengleesh?

      They want to block all outside access, including PING requests
      from getting into their system.
      They want to know IMMEDIATELY, how to put in the longest,
      most secure PASSWORDS possible, to prevent anyone,
      (like Billy’s computer hacker friends) on the inside
      of the network, or outside on the web, from getting
      into their home computer system. How do they do this? In Eeenglish?

      If you are trying to show off how technically advanced you are to your
      collegues in the Communications business, you are doing a fine job.
      If you believe for even a moment that your so called “MANUAL “,
      is helping John Q. Public, you are so full of yourself, that
      you are blinded by your own arrogance.

      A good example of your clearly arrogant, self-serving,
      missleading, even fraudulent behaviour is your coverage of one
      of the most important topics in the entire process – that of
      changing the stupid DEFAULT PASSWORDS.

      There is a general principal of JUSTICE used in the United States
      of America :
      truth is definded as:

      The truth, the whole truth, and nothing BUT the truth.

      Your coverage of PASSWORDS, fails on 2 out of 3 counts of
      this definition. You do not ” LIE ” per se, you just
      just do NOT tell the whole truth, avoiding details of the correct
      parameters of the legal passwords, like they were the plague,
      and showing PASSWORDS which are SOMETHING BESIDES THE TRUTH,
      clearly demonstrating to the users, excellent, 31 character
      password fields, which, if the user types in, YOUR SOFTWARE
      ACCEPTS, in fact, not only does your software allow 31 bit
      entries, IT ASKS THE USER TO CONFIRM a second time !!!

      While your LEGAL department may point out that this deception
      is ” NOT A LIE “, in ordinary English, this is fraudulent,
      deceptive, false advertising, and you clearly show a level of security
      in password length that you have no intention of supporting.

      I will be watching your advertising, your website manuals,
      and your installation CD’s in the near future, for clear
      changes in this fraudulent practise. …

      I have installed a few of these units over the years, but
      until now, never analysed the stupidities of your INSTRUCTIONS,
      READ-ME’s, Manuals, DIAGRAMS, and Examples…

      In the past, helping other people set up your typical
      “HOME USER” D LINK routers, I always used simple, easy
      to remember passwords, which I asked the ” HOME USER” to
      choose, and being short, and simple, they accidentally
      fit the stupid, narrow parameter, short requirements
      ” CLEARLY AVOIDED REFERENCE “, programming.

      However, since every 12 year old in the country has access
      to clear instructions on the web on how to set up snoop programs
      to monitor thousands on on-line users, and clear instructions
      on how to break simple passwords, I MYSELF followed your
      clearly documented, clearly printed, 31 field length password
      examples, and after re-entering them, was locked out of my
      own DLINK unit, forcing me to reset the damned thing
      and re- initializing the hardware and software repeatedly,
      until I realized that your Clearly printed Examples were
      a LIE. False Advertising. False Security.


      You are NOT giving any instructions at all to the many thousands
      of ” HOME USERS” on how to set up the router and Firewall,
      connect Billy’s and Salley’s computer, and change passwords and
      settings IMMEDIATELY, to give the highest level of security,
      which they falsely believe that they are getting…

      In fact, the DEFAULT settings of the unit, as shipped are a total
      JOKE, with wide open options and passwords that any 12 year
      old can defeat. Emphasis in the manuals on the ABSOLUTE NEED
      to IMMEDIATELY change default settings and passwords, is totally
      missing, and obsucured with mumbo-jumbo technicaleeze, which
      is as clear as mud.

      Choosing to populate your CD’s and Manuals and Examples, and
      leaflets, and Demonstrations with TECHNOSPEAK is not against
      the law.
      It is stupid, and arrogant, and hurts your SALES, but, not illegal.

      However, the deliberate AVOIDANCE of password parameters, coupled
      with CLEARLY printed examples of 31 digit PASSWORD fields,
      which your own software accepts, ( twice), likely IS false
      advertising, making the USER believe that 31 digit, high- security
      passwords are possible, when in fact, they are not.

      I will pass around JPGs of your manuals, your set up wizards, your
      CD pages, your online manuals, your instructions, etc. all
      regarding PASSWORDS, to see if others agree that this is
      fraudulent advertising…

      I will be watching the next revision of your software, and your
      packaging to see if this FRAUD is corrected.

      It would be wonderful as well, to see clear instructions in
      English, on how to connect Billy’s and Salley’s computer to
      your equipment. In English.


      Dec 16th 2K4


      Since this email, above, to DLINK, I have analysed
      their manuals further, and have discovered the
      deliberate use of OBFUSCATED sentence structure to
      deliberately confuse users – ” If you do not want
      the Armt39.Vb3.n not active, then you must not
      choose to not allow the ISP/ntr/34%3:49 activity”
      SETTINGS : Allow, Dissable

      Given the sentence structure, what do you click on? How many users happen to have another computer online beside them, to PING the resulting choice to determine if it is valid? For that matter, how many users would know how to PING what address in the first place. Finally, If someone has 384 computers to look after, and does know how to PING, would they bother to take the time to PING to verify the setting?

      Setting the wireless routers is really simple.
      Understanding the deliberate obfuscation provided by the Manufacturers is a nightmare. And it is getting worse.

      There is not a single person with a mobile wireless unit, that I know of, that does not
      get dozens of connections wherever they go. There
      is not a single person in a home or SOHO environment that does not pick up neighbouring signals, and the occurances are getting more frequent.

      Blame the manufacturers for arrogance, obfuscation, and shipping units with all security OFF, and all PORTS open, – this means that the
      users will not phone in, asking “why won’t this work”, – and therefore a cheap way to decrease costs in SUPPORT, while maintaining an arrogant posture of “ONLY we, know what we are doing”…


    • #3322710

      Earning Opportunity?…….

      by graeme ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Our local Staples told me that they get 20-25% returns on networking products that “don’t work” – meaning “too hard for end user to set up”. So you can understand why home and small office products come “open” if the neophyte user is to have success in setting up.

      We take the view that an unsecured network telss you eveything you need to know about the owner’s sense of security and that you are likely to catch something if you take the free ride. WE simply avoid them.

      • #3322621

        Need to change user manuals – help thy neighbor

        by theamazingsteve ·

        In reply to Earning Opportunity?…….

        With 20-25% return rate, it is no wonder that manufacturers have reduced “quick install” cards to the lowest common denominator (which just happens to be unsecure).

        Robin is also correct in that the manuals, often written in Engrish, seem to require a technical background to understand and follow. Once it works the average consumer figures they don’t need to read the rest of the manual.

        The manufactures need to put this on each quick install guide card:

        Quick Installation Guide
        – Use these instructions to get your network runing quickly, unsecured and publically accessible.
        – Information on security settings available at the end of this guide.

        After all, maybe some people really don’t care if you use it. Perhaps they even want this.

        End of Quick Guide
        – Securing you router is recommended. –
        – See pages X onward in the User’s Manual for directions –
        – If you require assistance, call us at 1-900-XXXXXXX for $Y.YY/minute for consultation.

        The 1-900 number would pay for the service, the manufacture would reduce “doesn’t work” returns and the consumers get better education and guidence.

        In the mean time, I will connect to my neighbours open networks so that I can approach them to help them out. That’s what a good neighbour does. (Much like warning them that their car windows are down when it starts to rain.)

    • #3322705

      not within certain boundaries

      by adent888 ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Hijacking implies taking over the network. As long as you do not attempt to connect to other computers on the network or try to gain access to services not meant for you, I have no problem with using an available signal. However you bring up an interesting question. Do IT professionals have a social responsibility to let people know when they are at risk?

      • #3322701

        Let the Buyer Beware

        by giltrotman ·

        In reply to not within certain boundaries

        I found this thread quite interesting (especially the diversions from the topic were highly entertaining) (I always found the non-commisioned highway cop, called left lane vigilante here a peculiar beast who feels that since they obey the letter of the law, they’l be damned if they are going to standby and watch you flaunt it even if it means backing up traffic from here to Timbuktu) and perhaps the all-out attempt to avoid the obvious–why is the orignal author trying to take responsibility for the owner of the wireless signal, I think one of the first replies kind of answered that one, equating the author to a never drive over the speed limit, by the book type of person? Now while I do appreciate conscientiousness, I am not going to lie awake at nights or post a ? to a Tech-Republic forum or for that matter the AP’s owner to say “Hey there is an unsecured AP here are you aware of this?” In fact, to get to the point I don’t think using an unsecured AP to check your email, browse Kazaa, or whatever immoral or illegal? In fact, the manufacturers who make and sell these dumbed-up, wide open APs (with intentionally obfuscated manuals) are within their rights to do so. I believe it is up to the buyer to beware of what he is buying, if Linksys or D-Link sells all their w-routers opened-up DON’T BUY THEM and as a technical consultant advise your customers that in your professional opinion Linksys does not pay enough attention to security. To further my point, it is up to the buyer to be ware of what he is buying, or to put it more specifically, if I buy a w-router that is opened-up and then install it at my workplace or residence I cannot sue the manufacturer because not only did somebody use my internet access, but they also stole copies of my Turbotax return, any lawyer I went to would promptly advise me that it was up to me to determine how to secure it, by reading the manual or purchasing a different product that was more secure. To further illustrate my point in a different way, if I go down to the mall and purchase a new HDTV and bring my new TV out to the parking lot and realize it won’t fit in my vehicle, am I going to say to myself well larceny is illegal so my TV is safe here, while I run home and come back with a pick-up truck, which by the way, I leave unattended at home with the keys in it because grand theft auto is also illegal and expect to come back and find my TV sitting there and if I should happen to know the TVs serial number and see it in soebodies house next week can I really claim it stolen, no abandoned is more like it, given away perhaps. Now, that doesn’t mean that if I leave my front door to my house unlocked I should expect to come home from work finding strangers eating my dinner, watching my TV with their feet up on my table and my wife under their arm, but if I did can I blame them or should I shoulder the responsibility for locking my own damn door. (BTW: I’m from NYC where locked-down is the norm and security is priority A1). Yes In the latter example I may be able to charge them with trespassing, but a halfway decent defense lawyer would probably be able to convince a jury that their client weary, hungry and lonely found my door open and thought the place abandoned. My wife would probably testify on their behalf because I didn’t care enough about her safety to lock the damn door.

    • #3322698

      Why not?

      by danag429 ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I live in a building where there are one or two unsecured wireless networks. It means I can sit on the couch and go online from my laptop, without having to drill a hole and run a cable through the wall.

      If someone leaves their wireless access point unsecured, then they obviously don’t care if someone uses it. It doesn’t cost them any more, and if they are using password protected accounts on their machines, nobody can get in and hurt them.

      If I were to set up a WLAN, I’d simply protect all of my machines and if anyone wants to get online, what do I care? As long as they can’t see my machines’ innards, it’s no skin off my nose!!

      One of the wireless networks in my building has a machine with an unsecured guest account. And guess what? I decided to be evil and look at their machine.

      BOOOOOR-ING! They had one accessable music file from some hack who shouldn’t have veen allowed in a recording studio.

      So as long as you’re not doing anything mean to their machines, they probably will never know you’re there. And if they password protected the user and guest accounts on their machines, then they obviously know someone could get on the network. Like I said, it costs them nothing and is a good will gesture to the neigbors.

    • #3322693


      by bill.greenleaf ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      It’s like a freeway vs a turnpike… thumbing a ride vs taking a taxi or bus.

      As long as you are not a “hacker” looking for a “freeway” to spread your malicious ways.

      Access to the Internet for legitimate resons on an available link should not be regarded as “hijacking”. All the manuals tell you how to secure your wireless access points so, if you leave your doors open, whether for good or bad reasons, someone is going to come in.

      • #3322680

        Necessarily muddy

        by nobby57 ·

        In reply to Free-Ride

        Have read nearly all the posts but still find myself in muddy waters — which is the nature of this kind of question, I guess.

        Here is my situation (and reason why I was interested in this thread): I am a tugboat captain for a company which docks ships in a large east coast port. Got a wireless PC card for my laptop for Christmas. As soon as it was installed I discovered that the hotel across the street from the pier was putting out a strong signal that I could even get from the end of the pier, hundreds of feet from the hotel. The signal is so strong that it is the default for my laptop out of a dozen (mostly secured) signals, as soon as I power up. The hotel page loads, then and I have unlimited high speed internet access. I love it — we have dialup at home — but I wonder about the ethical question, too.

        Sure they haven’t secured it. But this is more than just overhearing someone playing loud music. I am using part of their bandwidth, right? I would be paying $40/Mo for that service at home. So I am recieving something of value. On the other hand, it is not costing them much, if anything; I imagine that the hotel would have to be full of avid internet users to soak up all their bandwidth, to the point where my access would constitute any real interference.

        I guess the real question is how I view it. Having read most of the posts and thought it over, my view now is that I should go to the hotel management, let them know the situation, and see what they have to say. Probably they don’t know they are providing high speed internet access to the neighborhood at large; in that case they can get it secured. But maybe they are cognizant of it and intend it as a public service — there is a square in front of the hotel with trees and benches, etc. Unlikely but possible.

        Anyway, it seems to me now that I have to let them know. Then if they continue to leave it unsecured, that will be their lookout.

        I’m not an IT professional, just an avid hobbyist — I have a couple of basic certifications I got just for the interest of it. But I think even that level of expertise involves some responsibility.

        Thanks to all for the thoughts!

        • #3323463

          Hotel Access

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Necessarily muddy

          Generally speaking, hotels charge you for everything. And a lot. Once in a whilethey provide an amenity for their patrons to invite them to stay there as opposed to a competitor – something like free internet access.

          You aren’t the intended target, but it is free, andthey undoubtedly know it. [A hotel always makes decisions first by saying “What can I charge for this?”]

          True, it’s not 100% ethical, but they knowingly made this decision, so I doubt they mind.

          And just curious, what does the access page state?

        • #3323393

          Access Page

          by nobby57 ·

          In reply to Hotel Access

          The access page is similar to the hotel’s home page but it is obviously intended for the wireless guests. It has links to various hotel services and local businesses and theatres, etc.

          No mention is made of public access, nor does it say anything to imply that it is a service for hotel guests only. It’s a very attractive professionally designed page. If it were intended for the public at large it would make a good impression for the hotel; however it is hard on the face of it to make that assumption based on the page content.

          I intend to speak to them when I go back to work (in two weeks) and if this thread is still alive, I will post what they had to say. I’m curious myself. As several posters have observed, this is not a real big question either way, but it does serve to illuminate one of the ethical dilemmas posed everyday by our evolving capabilities.

          That said, it seems clear to me that in all ages and every time, much of ethics devolves upon the individual. So we do face new questions today, but they may not be much different from some of the old ones — and our responsibility, now as then, is often exercised in secret, where the only person who knows what we are doing is us. What does it take to satisfy yourself?

          I think if I find out that their intent, at the hotel, was not for the public to make use of their network, I would feel obliged to let them know and stop using it. Too bad, though — I hope it turns out the other way!

        • #3323386

          Sounds to me…

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Access Page

          Seems like it’s a marketing tool – and any costs for the connectyion each month are part of a fixed fee. Probably not even worth the cost to them to think about options of creating a login page, or having the text changed by the web designer [at $250/hr] to indicate acceptable use.

        • #3323426

          public service

          by danag429 ·

          In reply to Necessarily muddy

          The hotel is providing free wireless access for their guests and anyone else in their environment. If they were concerned and wanted to charge, they’d have a password that they give to the guests only. But I’ll bet if you talk to the people at the hotel they’ll be glad you’re seeing their page (advertising) and say “Enjoy, you’re welcome”.

    • #3322692

      what if it’s a surprise?

      by dlstaats ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      While on vacation last fall we stopped at a bakery/sandwich shop which advertised internet access ($1.00us/half hour). We bought lunch and proceeded to plug in the rj45 cord to my wife’s laptop to check our e-mails and the program venue at a location we wanted to visit later that day and the next. We had no problem getting on and doing so. The other couple who were trying to check on airline flights were having major problems so I said “here we’re done with this port and it’s working fine” – he plugged it into his laptop and no go – I then realized that I had left the default wireless coneection in the laptop enable and I was on wirelessly – this shop did not have wireless. I scanned and there were 3 sites available – 1 was locked down (signal strength 3), another ssid=linksys (signal strength 2) was not, and the 1 I had hit on was ssid=d-link (signal strength 10). I checked with the Real Estate office next door and the motel next to it and they denied having a wireless access point. I checked again 2 and 3 days later (didn’t use it at that point) and the site was still there and wide open.

    • #3322687

      It could be seen as hijacking but heres a thought…

      by paul ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      The way I see it, if somebody hacks into my wireless network, I have every right to mine the data on their computer, copy it to my hard disk, and use it however I see fit.

      • #3322679

        scanning the client machine

        by ned rhinelander (cnet) ·

        In reply to It could be seen as hijacking but heres a thought…

        couple questions

        If you left your wap unsecured and broadcast the SSID, would you consider any foreign machines connecting as having ‘hacked’ into your network?

        question 2: in practice how easy can the connecting machine be compromised? (I assume that if the client has folder sharing enabled without security, then anyone on the network could connect). But barring something like this, what service on a typical windows laptop would allow the server to obtain file access?

        I may be opening myself up to ridicule here but my impression is that windows is pretty secure, especially since the introduction of sp2 with the built in firewall.

        The most i’ve seen references to is ‘evil twin’ waps (, but this technique is basically eavesdropping on network traffic, which I *think* can go on on just about any network by using products like ethereal.

        • #3323620

          Can be done

          by paul ·

          In reply to scanning the client machine

          Hi Ned, my example actually comes from my home network… I have a basic Netgear router which another person from the apartment block managed to circumvent the security (not sure how exactly). Sad thing was, he left his C drive root shared and completely open… It was through browsing that drive, and finding his resume that I was able to work out who it was. I am on broadband with unlimited usage and only have a PDA and laptop connected to the network so not concerned really if people connect – the only thing that worries me is then conducting searches on illegal topics that would point back to me.

          I personally think that connecting to an access point without permission is tantamount to hacking. Getting into a car with unlocked doors and keys in the ignition is still theft after all.


    • #3322681

      Falls in with stupid litigation

      by ex-military nut ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Obviously you were there for a reason other than surfing an unprotected wireless network. I agree with the post about bringing the unsecured access point to the “owner’s” attention. If they reply that it is there for that express reason – the honey pot – then no harm; you’ve gained information on a useful access point AND another contact for your personal (people) network.

      Boil it down: Every action should involve a little common sense. It’s like the warnings about cruise controls and electric hair dryers – cruise control is not synonomous with auto-pilot and if you use an electric hair dryer in the shower, you deserve what you get.

    • #3322676

      It’s just like a hose bib.

      by larry3500 ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Every single-family home I’ve ever seen has one or more garden hose connectors in front of the house; anyone walking by can get water by going to an unsecured hose bib and turning it on. Many homes even leave a garden hose connected at all times.

      Does anyone boldly walk up and take a drink?

      Does anyone rinse their car off?

      NO. NO. Social etiquette seems to protect a homeowner’s water from interlopers.

      Does anyone stop by to read your unsecured newspaper between the time it is delivered and the time you retrieve it (in your pajamas and slippers)? NO.

      • #3322654

        Best analogy so far…Abandoned Newspaper?

        by beoweolf ·

        In reply to It’s just like a hose bib.

        Especially the one about a newspaper. If I purchase a newspaper, have paid for the service and have a reasonable expectation that it is mine to use as I wish. On occasion, people have taken an unread newspaper from my desk…when caught; they would say I thought you were through with it. Three salient points were ignored. First, it was on the desk, not in the lobby. Second, it was obviously unopened. Third and most important, they didn?t purchase it. The test for cyber trespass could be the same, is it available? Can you access it? Was it provided for your explicit use? In a public space, advertised as such?an open ?hot spot? would be O.K. to use, otherwise it is trespass.

        Same case with a book or magazine. Availability or opportunity; does not automatically confer privilege. Someone purchased the service or product; they shouldn’t have to defend it constantly. However; I do concede one point mentioned, give the climate of entitlement so pervasive today…you should take at least minimal steps to discourage non-intentional abuse. Example, a good citizen should have a fence on his yard if he has territorial pets…if only as a “demarcation zone” of where trespass starts. Not that this is any real protection from litigation, but it does establish a reasonable expectation of privacy.

        • #3323564

          public space

          by bmcombrw ·

          In reply to Best analogy so far…Abandoned Newspaper?

          I set up a lemonade stand on a public sidealk. No sign saying something like “$1.00 a Glass”, maybe just a sign saying “Lemonade”. No one manning the stand. Does someone have the right to grab a sip as they go by and walk on? Does that someone have the responsibility to enter the nearest building to track down the owner of the stand?

    • #3322675

      In UK, might be infringing Computer Misuse Act

      by jevans4949 ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      In the UK, the Computer Misuse Act, passed about 15-20 years ago as I recollect, might apply in this case. Its original intention was anti-hacking, but it is drawn in fairly broad terms, to forbid unauthorised use of a computer, even if no harm done. As I recall from discussion at the time, it would certainly apply to unauthorised use of a dial-up connection. Similar legislation might apply elsewhere. This is in the criminal law, so would require the Police / Crown Prosecution Service to action it.

      Trespass? In the UK we don’t normally have exemplary damages, so in a civil law case the owner of the system which was “hacked” would have to show the losses which he suffered. The most obvious would be if he was paying a per-megabyte rate for his connection, or if you were signifcantly slowing his business process.

    • #3322660

      Sidetrack … Cable Service

      by bronzemouse2003 ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      You purchase limited service from your cable TV provider. You have the option of purchasing your own Cable Decoder box.

      Now the service provider scrambles channels you are not purchasing, but sends them into your home.

      Your decoder is capable of descrambling those stations.

      Who’s at fault provider or end user? (Remember, the service provider has the capability to filter out signals into your home.)

      If you don’t want someone to access the service, don’t provide it to them.

    • #3322652

      Ethics of Piggybacking on open WLANs

      by rallison ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I have been dabling and implementing WLAN system over the last 5 years. In the beginning I felt the same, “if the WLAN was unsecure, its like offering a public service”. But after my experience in the hospitatlity industry I have learned that an unsecure WLAN with public access is a revenue loser.

      Although we are all aware that the “cost” associated with WLAN is not significant when compared to the IT budget, there is a cost associated for Internet access via 3rd party ISP or corporate resources. The Back end connectivity is limited for the business needs and priced accordingly, when the connection is “hijacked” by a client user across the unsecure WLAN the internet resources and connection is used more than as planned by the business.

      I would encourage that WLAN itegrators, implementors and planners adopt a minimum security strategy to ensure “hijacks” of sessions or access could not occur.

      As to the individual who may be tempted to hijack, think of the open WLAN as someones telephone. When you’re a guest at their house. Would you just make a call, or ask first?
      Commen courtesy is to ask, because that phone is not yours and you don’t pay the bill.

      Just my two cents.
      — Rick L. Allison
      Sr. Network Architect
      Acela Technologies

    • #3322634

      Propose a policy of public vs. private

      by acmbruch ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      With City plans of offering public WIFI the thought comes to mind:
      That in a public place the WIFI is public and private WIFI needs to not interfere in public places. Not having your WIFI in check is no excuse for getting mad at a user, as the user is in PUBLIC airspace.
      Who was in the wrong place, the user or the WIFI?

    • #3322632

      It’s not hijacking if your OS associates with an open system

      by djj ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      The notion of “hijacking” a connection implies that some effort went into connecting to the network. If your operating system happens to find an open connection and you end up using it then it is not hijacking. If instead you use some tools like a wireless sniffer or air magnet to discover an unadvertized SSID and then use the non-published information in order to gain access then it is hijacking and you become a black hat.

    • #3322628

      I don’t think so.

      by rrosca ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I leave my wi-i connection unsecured because I want people to have access to it.

      This whole debate gets more interesting when we start to consider who do we want to police the actions of people who piggyback unsecure wireless connections. Personally, I do not want to call the police when someone hops on my connection. I left it unsecure so that people can use it. If I did not want people to use it, I would have secured it.

      Now, you use the word “hijacking”. I certainly don’t want people to abuse the connection I simply want them to use it for normal computing.

      This obvioulsy gets more complex in the days of bit torrents and mpaa lawsuits and virus attacks (I certainly don’t want to get in trouble in someone uses my connection to do anyting illegal but…it’s a possibility I have to consider).

    • #3322622

      Everyone sees a different game

      by tekdoc ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      This is very interesting. I’m not a lawyer, but there are legal and ethical decisions.

      1. You don’t have any idea what is going on in that network. If their business is defense, medical, etc. you took a wrong step in my opinion. They may have a heightened sense of security for many reasons, and you could become a test case. A real situation follows. A doctor brought his notebook into a small office building. One day he discovered that he could connect thru next door tech company’s WAP. Okay, would you hire that company to build your apps? Forget that for a moment. Eventually they secured the WAP, and that was that. The problem I have with this is that the doctor exposed proprietary information.

      2. I can’t quote law, but if you access a company’s property without permission, you are exposing yourself, innocently enough, to being accused of theft, trespassing, etc. What is the likelihood of getting “caught?” Don’t allow that to sway your judgment. If I leave my door unlocked on a very hot day, and you enter my house for a cool drink of water… What if I leave my door ajar slightly? What if I leave a bottle of water on my front step? The point is that each situation is different. Whether or not something is right or wrong depends on the observer, the value of the property, the extent of intrusion, and I’m sure other factors I don’t consider, but a judge would.

      What is more interesting than the legal and technical aspects, is your co-worker’s response to what you did. I can’t characterize it for you, but definitely worth thinking about.

    • #3322620

      Legitimate user confusion

      by ernestm ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Here’s the real problem. There are many, many open wireless networks out there. Many are specifically intended to allow public access – in my city, a large number of restaurants, etc. provide public access points. Even businesses do – the business I work for specifically has a multi-tier wireless setup where you need VPN access to get into the corporate network but any visitor can connect and get Internet access freely.

      Connecting wirelessly, you very, very seldom get any kind of message saying “Welcome! I’m public” or “Quit it! I’m private.” So if a user opens their laptop and sees several wireless networks – how are they legitimately supposed to know whether they can use it or not? Especially because most of the public’s interaction is with “ok to use” public access points.

      It seems to me a lot like trespassing. If you fail to mark your property, you can say someone shouldn’t be there but legally you are in a very weak position.

      Now, you can say “well, if you don’t know if it’s public or not, don’t connect! Just to be sure!” But ethics in the real world don’t require that, any more than they require you to not wander through that tree line near the river because ut “might” be unmarked private property. There are enough laws on enough things that if you defaulted to no use when you weren’t “sure” you’d be stuck in your home all day.

      With the proliferation of public access points, and with not just users but IT professionals and everyone knowing how automatic wireless connection is in today’s technology, in my opinion if you have a publicly accessible wireless network you should expect that it be considered fair game. If you don’t like it – fix t, it’s easy. But to claim that people using it are hijacking is neither fair nor tenable.

      • #3323434

        Average user

        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to Legitimate user confusion

        Which is more reasonable to expect:

        A) The average person knows even HOW to secure their new wireless setup [or even that it should be]

        B) If an access point doesn’t specify that it’s open intentionally for you specifically to use, it isn’t.

    • #3323621

      Before coming down on “dumb” users

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      think for a minute. If it wasn’t for all the people out there that are on AOL without a clue in the world, there wouldn’t be as much call for trained professionals to sell, fix, fix again and fix again their equipment.

      They are creating an bottomless pool of opportunity for techs to thrive and be able to afford all the cool toys.

      Next time you see a “dumb user”, instead of snorting down on them, say “thank you”. It is the “dumb user” who PAYS to have things done for him.

    • #3323614

      What’s an intrusion to you???

      by manningda ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Likewise, I couldn’t talk intelligently about the legal issues, however I think there may be an obvious comparison here…

      What do you do when you leave your home… your car… your office??? You probably lock them; but sometimes aren’t you in too big a hurry.

      (ex: quick errand to the corner store = house unlocked… quick trip into the post office = car unlocked … lunch break during the day = office unlocked)

      When this happens, how would you react to someone driving off in your car for a couple of hours… or someone coming in and making long-distance calls on your office phone… or someone coming into your home and watching pay-per-view on your cable/satellite system?

      I suspect you would consider it a violation.

      I am certain there are many domain administrators who do not consider an intermittent “rogue” connection a serious problem; but ask yourself honestly…

      “Would I expect someone else to respect my “territory” if this situation was reversed?”

      If your answer is yes, then I say…
      “…let your conscience be your guide.”

      If you answer no, I suspect you may find yourself invited to fewer and fewer LAN parties.

      Honestly, who wants to hang out with a party crasher?

    • #3323613

      unsecured wi fi

      by stephenr.sanders ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Well, I found my self at Kennedy Airport Terminal 4 and while at the bar by security gates found 6 or more networks from the airline lounges at my disposal. Used of coures. I have a WiFi network in my house so if you are in Parioli district of Rome and can get the signal from the street you are welcome to log in. If a network is unsecured then it seems more or less open season if you are not trying to steal anything.

      Rome, Italy

    • #3323609

      Open is Available

      by schrödinger’s cat ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      In most places the law states that bypassing or hacking security restrictions is illegal. Accessing information that is not yours is illegal. So, simply accessing an open network, using it as a path to the Internet (and in this case transferring instant messages) is, and shouldn’t be illegal or even unethical. If this use infringed on the intended users use of the network there would be an ethical issue. For example in the past when bandwidth was very limited, if you hopped on someone’s LAN which had limited access to the Internet, and consumed a sizeable amount of their access bandwidth, it would be impolite, perhaps unethical. I supposed if you hopped on the LAN in the lobby and started downloading a gigabyte file, it would be unethical or impolite…certainly inconsiderate. But to get your email, do some simple browsing, exchange IMs…to me it is not illegal, unethical, impolite, or inconsiderate. Go for it.

    • #3323608

      Hijacking Wireless

      by mstrauss ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I don’t know this for sure, so don’t quote me, but I believe the majority of the wireless capable devices clearly state that broadcasting your SSID and the failure to use any type of security or encryption could expose your network to intruders. I feel that it is the AP owner’s responsibilty to act on the warning of the manufacturer and take the necessary precautions to prevent intrusion/hijacking. I didn’t say it was ok for someone to hijack, I said that the owner assumes the responsibilty if their wireless gets hijacked.

    • #3323601

      Has anyone ever been charged?

      by theamazingsteve ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Okay… we have lots of analogies to reading unused newspapers, sneaking into drive-thru theatres and hunting on unposted land. I can think of others, like watching TV through a neighbour’s windows, having to fence in your yard (i.e. implementing security) to avoid liability with a backyard pool. The list goes on… All interesting and conscience provoking, but is “WLAN piggybacking illegal”?

      Mentioned were the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 United States Code ? 1030) and the UK’s Computer Misuse Act. Have these ever been used against unauthorized WLAN users?

      Has anyone ever been caught and charged? (Yes, I realise this is new territory without a great deal of precedence.)

      As far as I know, there has only been one case were a WiFi piggy-backer was charged. I believe it was in the Toronto (Canada) area, where police officer patrolling a residential area noticed that a man in parked car using a laptop wasn’t wearing pants. (I can’t find a URL to this story… if you have please post!)

      If you want people like this in your neighbourhood, leave your routers unsecured!

    • #3323598

      breaking and entering

      by notoriousdog ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      If you saw a car unlocked (with the keys in it – for a more accurate analogy), would it be alright to take it for a spin? If you leave the house unlocked, the trespasser is not excused. You may not be doing anything malicious, but you still don’t have permission to be there.
      Most people don’t understand what we take for granted. The network you used most likely belongs to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. You shouldn’t take advantage of that. An unsecured WLAN is not a free public access point.

      • #3323569

        Refine the analogy 2

        by bmcombrw ·

        In reply to breaking and entering

        You have to open up the car to get in and drive it or take anything from inside it. An open wireless network is more akin to someone standing outside his car with the keys in his hand, pushing them towards you as you walk by, and putting them in your hand when you reach for them, but hoping that you will decide not to take it for a spin because he did not explicitly say that’s why he gave you the keys.

        • #3323428

          Do you honestly believe that?

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Refine the analogy 2

          No, there are no signs posted saying please use me! The analogy is not that someone is handing you the keys. You stretched it too far. The analogy ends with the keys in the car.

    • #3323583

      What is Hijacking & whats not

      by bywhatnow ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      As I see it the question revolves around a hard choice/decision. There are many Wi-Fi access points that are left open for the public to access email internet and/or business stuff. The cable company here advertises that they will “help” you set up your wireless network. Yet, when I ask the tech about WEP or WAP he looked at me like I was crazy or something. I am a firm beliver that it is up to the person(s) with the wireless access to secure it. The problem is, most homeowners just don’t know how. Besides, it works right out of the box, right? So, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I belive that if you set up a wireless access point and do NOT secure it you have, by default, invited the public to use your point . I know I will get a lot of flack on this, but if you leave your keys in your ignition, the insurance company may deny you claim that your car was stolen as you provided the means for them to take it. Just a thought.

      • #3323427

        Your analogy

        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to What is Hijacking & whats not

        The insurance company may deny repayment for the lost property, but the cops will still arrest the thief.

    • #3323580

      Question of responsibiliy and risk vs. ethics

      by joekool24601 ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      If you are the owner of a wireless access point and make it available to the general public, you are responsible for the availability of your network. However, if you are naive enough to make it available to the general public, are you naive enough to have an unnoticed virus on the equipment on your end, which could conceivably propagate to computers owned by equally naive users? For the person connecting to such a network, it is irresponsibility as well to connect to an unsecured network. Since there is no universal, ubiquitous, legal framework in place to govern this, it becomes a question of responsiblity. I would think that if you are going to jack in to another person’s AP, then the one you keep at home should be equally unsecured in order to perpetuate the system to which you apparantly subscribe… Let me know if this makes any sense to anyone other than me.

    • #3323577

      This is an easy one….

      by todd ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      The answer is no, you are not doing anything wrong.

      Every server used on the internet, allows pass through traffic (Information that is meant for someone else?s server but still goes through yours ?remember why/how the internet came to be), even if that information is secured (encrypted/VPN). Actually that?s why business use encryption to prevent other server operators that like to ?ease drop? on the line from finding out the information being transmitted through their systems etc…

      IF there is no security or authentication for a wireless access point, it would be the same as plugging your computer into an internet connection that was wired. IF they want to charge for it, or make money on it (ISP) then they should have security or authentication active, that would prevent you from connecting to their server, without security or authentication it is not trespassing, it?s rightaway.

      • #3323424


        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to This is an easy one….

        Every server on the internet does NOT allow pass through traffic.

        ISPs have agreements with partners about fees for routing traffic.

        And there will never be any way that your request to read a CNN page ever goes through my connection to the internet.

    • #3323576

      It is stealing…

      by mhasf ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Ok, you are using someone’s property and possibly bandwidth that they pay for. So it is tantamount to stealing. Think of the old cable service where they only used filters that were easily removed, and thus opened up services you were not paying for.

      So you say, “well… if the guy (or gal) is stupid enough to leave his net unsecured, then he/she deserves what they get!”

      OK, so you walk buy someone’s house and notice that they have some really cool potted plants in front. They are not chained to the concrete so you figure they are now community property.

      Having said that, there are a few issues here:

      1. Damn the Wireless Hardware companies for not including an auto-secure feature for the less technical. Even a capability to ask for a simple key during install, like your drivers license number, or something like that.
      2. Those of us in the know should, if we can, let that person know that their front door is wide open.

    • #3323572

      Who is to say…….

      by myndkrime ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      In the words of Dennis Miller ” I hate to get on to a rant here but”…….

      From what I have read on the subject there are NO laws barring you from doing this, so you are not breaking the law. As long as you are just using their AP and not trying to break their WLAN or their systems. I have experimented and did a little wardriving, with just a laptop and a Cisco 350 external wireless card, no additional antenna, I am able to pick up APs galore with no security settings, even more disturbing it that a majority of them have ALL the DEFAULT settings intact. I read in a previous post who is responsible for these, and splitting the percentage of blame on vendor, ISP, and user. Let’s put it in simple terms…IT IS THE USERS FAULT. If you purchase a car drive it then leave the keys when you leave it, would you be surprised if your car was stolen? Take personal responsibility, if you purchase the equipment you should know what the implications are if it is not setup correctly. Received a wireless AP from an ISP, did they stick a gun to your head to install it? NO you chose to install it, same with all the other users who think there is nothing to it and that have the mentality ” That won’t happen to me” when see accounts of people hacking into systems…..How do you think they are getting into these systems? YES UNSECURE NETWORKS..

      Is is legal, NO LAW AGAINST IT
      Should you use it, If they don’t secure it is open range….
      Should you notify the person? You can inform them if you would like but it seems that most of the time the good samaritan trying to advise of network weaknesses is often the person who is getting charged or arrested for bringing this to light…….

      • #3323421


        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to Who is to say…….

        There are laws against it. You just can’t recall having read it, I’m sure. Or perhaps there isn’t a law where you live, I didn’t check. But there are, indeed, laws against it.

    • #3323570

      Securtiy Risk

      by bob.pastorius ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Anyone who connects to an un-secured network should consider it a security risk. I can’t think of a better way to gain access to account names and passwords than to set up an AP and Sniff away….

      • #3323523

        It’s a jungle out there…

        by theamazingsteve ·

        In reply to Securtiy Risk


        This is, apparently, being done. The folks mentioned in the report below are comitting fraud. If I were to do this in my home, which is not an advertised WiFi Hot Spot, and you were to use it… I suppose you are transmitting your information (willingly and uninvited) into my home. I suppose I could sniff away. (If I did anything with it, that would definitely be a crime.)


        ‘Evil twin’ could pose Wi-Fi threat
        Published: January 21, 2005, 10:51 AM PST
        By Dan Ilett
        Special to CNET
        TrackBack Print E-mail TalkBack

        Researchers at Cranfield University are warning that “evil twin” hot spots, networks set up by hackers to resemble legitimate Wi-Fi hot spots, present the latest security threat to Web users.

        Attackers interfere with a connection to the legitimate network by sending a stronger signal from a base station close to the wireless client, turning the fake access point into a so-called evil twin.

    • #3323538

      FCC regulations apply here

      by tampa hillbilly ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      FCC regulations say it is legal to intercept a radio signal and use it for your own personal benefit. You may not divulge any information as a third-part entity. A wireless router is a radio transmitter radiating into free space. The OWNER of that transmitter must secure that communications device from unauthorized use. Bottom line – If it is offered up for free and unsecured, use it.

      • #3323490

        FCC, says you can LISTEN, NOT TRANSMIT

        by ron.riley ·

        In reply to FCC regulations apply here

        Your right, the FCC says you can LISTEN or RECEIVE unsecured radio freq’s. BUT YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TRANSMIT ON THEM WITHOUT A LEGAL LIC.

        If you use the unsecured wireless net to so much as connect to the unsecured network, YOUR DEVICE IS TRANSMITTING. Which is Illegal.

        See my other comment: “How is this different” below.

      • #3323417

        Apply how?

        by cactus pete ·

        In reply to FCC regulations apply here

        That is a one way transmission, surfing is necessarily two-way. Not the same.

    • #3323529

      Ethics – Do you really have any??

      by mikercol ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Looking only at the ethical side of this qustion I’ll propse a hypothetical situation.

      I’m an IT Director with 500 people reporting to me through 15 Managers. I’m interviewing you for a position filling an open Network Admin Manager postion. My 3rd question during the interview is a hypotheical question.

      “You were waiting in the lobby because you had arrived 15 minutes early for the interview. You opened your laptop computer to check some notes you had made in your preinterview research and find that your computer has found an unsecured AP. Is it ok for you to use the AP for your own personal needs.”

      If your answer dose not match up with the posts you have made previously you might want to reevaluate some of your choices.

    • #3323521

      Re: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      by ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I don’t think it’s hijacking per se but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do either. Hijacking to me (IMO) usually means that the connection has been taken over and the owner locked out.

      When I find an unsecure WLAN I make an effort to educate the owner of that connection about the dangers of an unsecure & open connection.

    • #3323503

      How is this Different ???

      by ron.riley ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      How is this different then:

      1) Your neighbor plugging his electric lawn mover into your outdoor outlet to cut his lawn. Because the outlet doesn’t have a lock.

      2) Someone coming into your house to get warm or use the bathroom because you left the door open.

      3) People coming into your back yard and eating food you are growing on fruit trees or a garden, because you didn’t lock the gate.

      4) Your neighbor using your garden hose to water his lawn or wash his car. Because the spiket wasn’t locked.

      If it’s illegal for the Govt. to tap your phone line without a court order. What makes you think it IS legal to tap into a wireless network just because you can.
      This reasoning says, if I can BREAK INTO a network, through some means that the owner hasn’t been able to protect themselves againest. Either due to lack of knowledge or $$$ to buy security software/hardware. Then it’s OK!

      Then it must be OK for a crook to break into your house or rob you, because HE CAN and you didn’t do everything possible to prevent it. Same thought process. But when YOU are the Victim, it will be a totally different story. A thief is a thief. The amount and how it’s done doesn’t matter.
      Anyone that has setup a wireless network knows that by default the security items are TURNED OFF in the network devices. The average home user too cheap to pay someone knowledgeable to perform the setup, is going to get others connecting to their network. But probably won’t even know it.
      They could have hired ME, but……..

    • #3323485

      Public Access

      by blarman ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Given that the spectrum is in the public domain, and that it is accessible via the lobby (a public portion of a company’s premises), and that no efforts have been made to secure it from public use, the proper legal assumption is that the access is there for public use or as a service to the customer/public. If one had any doubts, they could be relayed to the front-desk. But I don’t think I’d have any ethical compulsions about invasion of someone else’s network.
      I would very much liken it to if the lobby provided a network in the lobby for potential clients to plug into which gave them access. You would know that these were explicitly set up for this purpose – or at least be highly justified in the assumption. I would feel comfortable making that same assumption here as well.

    • #3323461

      A simple question

      by tradergeorge ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      To me, this is a relatively simple question.

      If you walk into almost any hotel/motel in the morning, you can usually (with exceptions)walk unmolested into the breakfast buffet and eat your fill. You could justify this in a lot of ways, perhaps by saying that it was their fault for being “unsecure”, or that the buffet was there for “visiting guests”.

      The only real question here is whether YOU were authorized to use the network, or would have been if the owner were asked before you accessed it.

      Even if all you are stealing is a little bit of bandwidth, it is still theft.

      • #3323412

        It’s not the same

        by maxwell edison ·

        In reply to A simple question

        Whereas the food in your analogy is consumed, eventually to disappear, not to be “sold” to someone else, the bandwidth is not.

        A better analogy might be when a person steps into a warm buffet restaurant on frigid day just to warm up a bit. The person is not a “paying” customer, but is taking advantage of the heat nonetheless. Or perhaps a traveler using a restroom. It might be intended for customers only, but gee, one little flush won’t matter.

        There’s a difference between using and consuming.

        • #3323406

          Extremes are never worth arguing

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to It’s not the same

          You’re right, no manager worth their salt should turn out a single [possibly future patron] person for using the restroom when they aren’t a customer.

          And if a stranger needed my [fictional] open access point for a quickie, I would allow that, no problem.

          But that previously mentioned manager might not appreciate a line of people using the toilet all day.

          So the extremes, one’s OK, one isn’t.

          It might not be legal to tap someone’s moronically open AP, but it’s really not worth the effort to prosecute, either. The ethically dilemma is, how much is OK? How do you know? On what level of technical aptitude must the owner be for this to be a different story? Should it even be rated per that level of knowledge?

          I don’t know where the line is, but some things are easily on either side of it.

        • #3323381

          Your open access point for a quickie???????

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Extremes are never worth arguing


        • #3323379

          Where the line is

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Extremes are never worth arguing

          I think the line will become obvious when you cross it.

          However, another thought I’ve had is to give it time. Relatively speaking, wireless networking is still in its extreme infancy. We (as an industry) are still working out all the details, and given time these kinds of things will be worked out when all the dust settles, so to speak.

        • #3323376


          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Where the line is

          I’m sure you’re right.

        • #3323377

          Your open access point for a quickie???????

          by maxwell edison ·

          In reply to Extremes are never worth arguing

          If you were a woman, I might think that you might be propositioning me.

        • #3323375

          Lucky for me

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Your open access point for a quickie???????

          …you know better.

        • #3344288

          Extremes are never worth arguing?

          by tradergeorge ·

          In reply to Extremes are never worth arguing

          The best way to prove or disprove a concept is to test the extreme cases. If the concept proves valid in the extremes, it is valid in the “lesser” cases.

          This is about theft, no matter how you look at it. The real question is whether it is theft to the degree that prosecution is advised for the worth and mitigation of the case in question.

        • #3342836

          Exactly my point

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Extremes are never worth arguing?

          It’s not worth arguing the extremes, they are known. We need to figure out where the breaking point is so that we can state what has crossed the line so we should care about it.

        • #3344299

          The difference…

          by tradergeorge ·

          In reply to It’s not the same

          is that the owner of the restaurant provides these facilities knowing that a few non-customers will use them and agrees to the use as a cost of doing business.

          If you really believe that bandwidth is a non-consumable quantity, you need to learn more about the infrastrucrure of connections to the internet (or maybe just talk to your ISP). Like the minutes on your cellphone plan, it is only “unlimited” until you exceed your allotment. Then it becomes very expensive, very quickly.

    • #3323430

      Wireless Hijack in London

      by mintond ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I was in London last week on business and a friend of mine asked me to come over and take a look at her system and see if I could fix it. When I went over I found her dsl was down and I had a few technical questions that could only be answered if I could get on line. So I powered up my laptop and I started using the good old modem and a land line to connect to the net. Well low and behold my laptop connected to a wireless network without even trying I looked and the network and noticed it was a linksys system and just for s and g’s used the default IP and password and I was in the router. I then looked at the DHCP client list and found the names of the computers which matched the next door neighbors name. So what did I do. I did the honest thing and knocked on the door and informed them what they needed to do to close the open door they left open. The main reason if someone decided to use that connection to set up a kiddy porn site then they would be responsible. Most people just love the plug and play and don’t realize how opened there systems are. So I just did some education.


    • #3323388

      consider the broader issues

      by bwalker@work ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I suspect that questions such as those raised in this thread are going to become more common in the years to come. As more “services” become widespread and available for convenience, there will be questions about who is allowed to benefit from them. As more “things” are able to be digitized and transmitted, there will be questions about who is allowed to have/use/enjoy them. The current “service” under debate is wireless network access, but what’s next? The current “things” under debate are pictures, songs, and movies, but what’s next? If individuals rely upon precise restrictions to specifically forbid use of “services” and “things” that are not theirs to use I think that bodes ill for society in general. I believe there must be an overarching sense of right and wrong that comes into play without resorting to being guided by laws, signs, or banner messages. I believe it demonstrates flawed moral logic to attempt to put the burden of controlling behavior on the parties that provide the “services” and “things”. If we refuse to respect the interests of others in an ever-increasing number of contexts I’m worried about the ultimate consequences.

    • #3323383

      I think we have covered all of the fundamentals here

      by a16659235 ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      1. Buy wi-fi, setup and use suggests that the owner read the manual(s) and made a “reasonable” attempt to utilize this new equipment resource according to the many various features the equipment offered.
      2. Liability? Placed on whom? Owner? or Casual user who happens to find an open unsecured line of comm.
      3. Gazillion (“get this *Hypothetical* of course”) methods to compare apples to oranges, lawns chairs to HAM radio signals. (ever think of that?)
      4. Public domain? Is this included? What was the intent of the wi-fi? Private vs. public?
      5. Did Santa leave you a brand new RAID-10 Server rack under the tree this year?

      OK, back to the question: If what you did is called “hi-jacking” then clearly this is true. You did do something that was wrong in terms of personal integrity and self respect for other’s property. Laws broken? Maybe so as well. (IMHO-It’s also your own company’s wi-fi as well giving you ‘legal’ access-unless you have been restricted from accessing the network.)
      Nevertheless, If you see it open and it’s unsecured, take a few seconds or more to think it over and make an ethical evaluation >decision.

      Great question and thanks for asking.

    • #3323368

      due diligence

      by steve_te ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      The question at hand reminds me of “…well, if ya’ gotta’ ask!” Although, that line even becomes blurred in our ever-evolving, cross-communicating world.

      Initial logic says …an admin that configures a WLAN to broadcast the SID is (a) desiring that others use that connection point as a public hot-spot or (b) that the admin is simply not privy to the proper configuration and security practices of a WLAN. If you take the “they asked for it” attitude …..please seek professional help. Obviously, not the case in this gentleman’s scenario or he wouldn’t have posed the morality question.

      The question posed, itself, could be debated both ways, and possibly without end, nearly to the degree of p2p file sharing a couple of years ago (let’s not go down that road).

      However, the “right” approach to this issue seems to be one of doing the right thing if at all possible. The right thing being; if (for example) you have access to the IT dept. in this building, or can find it via some directory, maybe it would be the right thing to “ask” that department of their intention of the open WLAN. You might find that (a) they were simply ignorant of the circumstance or (b) intended for it to be used as configured. Either way ..everyone is square!

      Obviously, it wasn’t an airport or a coffee shop. Does one really “have” to connect in the lobby on a regular basis? Surely not.

      It’s seeing the forest in spite of the trees! If it feels awkward or one’s concsious says “maybe I shouldn’t do that” then 9 times out of 10 that gut feeling is accurate.

      Play it safe, not sorry. No one loses a life in this scenario. If someone “were” losing their life and connecting to this WLAN was possible …by all means hop on-board and apologize later!!! Otherwise, take the time for due diligence and ask the neighbor before parking your car in there driveway.

      Lake City, AR

    • #3323363

      Public frequency

      by itaintnothang ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      OK, what is public frequency? HAM radios are public, CB’s are public, and WiFi’s are public frequency. everyone has a right to use that frequency. I guess when I listen to HAM radio I am hijaking someone elses conversation.

      Its not the ISPs fault. 99% of the time they dont even know when a customer sets up a WLAN.

      It is the person who set up his WLAN and forgot to secure it.

      The anly blame I could possibly see puting on the user is the moral obligation to inform the owner that they have not secured their network.

      Personaly, I have 2 WLAN’s set up at my home. one is secured for my personal use and is inside my network. the other is unsecured and open to the public. all it can access is the internet, but that is what I wish to do for my neighbors.

      I have 3 neighbors that used to have unsecured WLAN’s, I contacted them and they paid me to set up basic security on their’s. Most people dont have a clue what security means. and in most cases if they are that clueless, it probably isnt on a network that has any thing important on it. Maybe a personal laptop, which is rarely ever even conected.

      Is it leagal?

      Im not a lawyer, but my understanding is that it is public frequency for public use. If someone is not suposed to be there then treat it as if they arent. Other wise it is public property. It becomes private the moment you secure it.

    • #3323360

      You Have No “Rights”

      by daguru ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Regardless of whether or not a WLAN is correctly or incorrectly configured, any user who sends, receives or monitors messages/traffic on that network without the expressed permission to do so is hijacking that network. Should the individual whom created/setup the network be impuned? Of course. Should the person(s) responsible for securing it and maintaining it be allowed to find employment elsewhere? Surely.

      However, the mere fact that a connection is available and access is allowed (without expressed permission to access it, one must be inclined to say ‘inadvertently allowed’) does not give way to the assumption that it’s okay to do so.

      ALthough I do not have a fence around my residential property, one would not (and wisely should not) assume that it’s okay to traverse my property to get to the other section of the sub-division. My dogs would probably have something to say about it if someone did…as they have demonstrated their displeasure in that in the past.

    • #3323322

      Do we owe the owner a notice?

      by tantien ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Such a great topic and so germaine to my dilmema too. I am sitting in my own home and I put my wireless card in only to find that, after Xmas a person in my neighborhood had installed a new unsecured wireless lan. I was instantly associated to this AP. They had renamed the SSID to (an example) “TheSmiths56GLAN”. I’ve looked up their name in the phonebook and there is only one of a name like this in my very local neighborhood. I am a CISSP. I ethically had a problem riding on their LAN even though I could without damage or privacy invasion. I could call them, but I’m unsure of my responsiblity to do so. My gut tells me that this is not right or else I wouldn’t be doubting my actions. I’ve not actively used this connection, though it is very tempting.

      So this question/topic is near and dear to my situation. Any thoughts (need I ask?) about whether if you knew the name of the owners, you’d tell the owners of the WLAN in order to warn them or better secure their network.

      • #3324942

        Probably not

        by mikefromco ·

        In reply to Do we owe the owner a notice?

        I doubt I’d let them know unless I knew them.
        Nor would I have any great interest in riding their LAN. Why bother, my DSL works just fine.
        The question in a public building or public area is more dicey. How would anyone know if it is private or public unless it is so named?
        Personally, I think it’s silly to rename the SSID and not secure it. I think mine is named linksys but only allows my mac addresses to use it.

      • #3324695

        Yes, in that cooperation works wonders

        by rmuldavin ·

        In reply to Do we owe the owner a notice?

        Out here in rural area, I have yet to find anyone that can recieve or send wifi type systems.

        But, I am “talking” it up, going slow, first establish one to one contacts with external antenna, then work with triplet antennae, one by one a network can grow, it surely with take face-to-face, social contacts, fine.

        But all members of the family will likely taken an interest.

        Today many people use the Internet in our rural area, few have satilite recieption, one T1 here, generally the corporations are using farmers land without honest payment, if any, to run the cables.

        Wireless towers for cell phones are sbriingiing up.

        Wire may be going out, but “evolution” is slow for product changes, except for total system crash, then the top downers loot the ashes.

        But local independence for communication, that is, traditional “Congress shall make no law …”, like our Bill of Rights, depends on traditional skills.

        Top down access to the bottom can be placed into a triplet balance with local access to the widest band communications.

        Best, rmuldavin

      • #3323697

        Do you like your neighbors?

        by finleydc ·

        In reply to Do we owe the owner a notice?

        In a similar situation I called and notified my neighbors of their open connection, and offered to help them secure it. I like my neighbors. Consumer systems are marketed with weak default settings intended to work the first time, guaranteeing an unsecure connection.

        The true ethical test in this* situation comes when you don’t know, or worse, don’t even LIKE your neighbors. Your response then reflects your personal moral standard. (*One could argue that this situation is NOT the same as one in which you encounter an open wireless access point in a professionally managed network, where the admin should know better. However, if you were that administrator, wouldn’t you want to know you had a back door left open? If it remains open after that, you could then argue that you have an implicit invitation…)

    • #3324947


      by mark2 ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      I like you feel that when setting up my Wi-Fi (Unsecured) that it is open for business. I set up using a Linksys G using cables and external antennas on the roof so other people could use it!! I wish that everyone felt the way I do, we would have an Umbrella in no time at all. You can use softwalls and other way of protecting what you don?t want others to get at. Thank you for bring up this topic as it needs more, much more discussion.


    • #3324878

      Duck Blinds

      by calgary ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Hijacking aside you may open yourself up for eavesdropping from a ?duckblind?. I can (not that I have) put up an unsecured AP and wait for the flock to land. Once you join my AP I can sniff the link and gain all sorts of info from you. For instance, your email username and password are not encrypted in the data packet. If you have file or drive sharing turned on watch out. Just be careful.

    • #3324778

      What I tell my kids

      by christopher.seward ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      In the end, it comes down to one thing. Legally, if you are not given permission, or informed that it is OK, you don’t have a right to it.

      I give my kids one particular rule that covers most (but not all) circumstances…”If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.” Works in my house. 🙂

    • #3324755

      Funny example of Recursion!!!

      by montgomery gator ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      When I did my original comment, of course, this forum was not on it. Interesting how Google works and gets updated in so short a time. I originally got the term “Left Lane Vigilante” from Mike Straka’s column on,2933,126808,00.html

    • #3324737

      Hijacking? I would say leeching maybe..

      by loptr.chaote ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      “Hijacking”? That would mean you took total control of their network, not allowing their regular traffic to go where it should.

      It might be considered “leeching”, since they probably pay for internet access, but unless it’s ISDN or similar technology where you pay by traffic/packet amount.

      But in this case, some moralists would probably claim that it is, but I can’t really bother with moral and ethics in a case where there is no real victim.

      If you started sniffing the network and reading mail, that is a different topic because then you actually invade someones privacy, but it’s not worse than someone standing right behind their back staring at the monitor. Unethical? Maybe. Annoying? Yes.

      But if one connects to an open network and uses a reasonable amount of bandwith that can hardly fall as unethical from my perspective, since there is no real victim.

      [And one could go on about the duty and responsibility of people buying and setting up wireless access points in their home/wherever.]

    • #3324706

      Reply To: connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      by rmuldavin ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      Yes,it the local conditions determing user choice.

      Like Black Hole string theory, it’s Willard Gibbs “phases”, “mixed phases”, “eguilibrium” made into mathematical relations.

      And so black holes, here, our sense of touch, to imagined for now, black holes at relative far distances, flat services, layered, information devives.

      Leaving a WiFi without security, first, for my level of use, leaves the challenge of mixing machine language dominance, right now, maybe “fact” that four digits, (0,1,2,3) gives motherboard control of users machine, plus or minus, the complexity supporting the interneting and the people making their living, wager, fun, and “gain”.


    • #3323892

      Connecting to a private access point is bracking the law!!!

      by scottschmitts ·

      In reply to connecting to unsecured wireless: is it hijacking?

      You should have permission before accessing the private wireless network.