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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 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?

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You, sir, suck!

by buschman_007 In reply to What's wrong with obeying ...

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. :)

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Reason to speed

by TheChas In reply to What's wrong with obeying ...

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:


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The real scope of wireless Networking

by zczc2311 In reply to I think people need to ge ...

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.

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by mrafrohead In reply to I think people need to ge ...

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)

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Ah, finally, some clear thought

by erich1010 In reply to I think people need to ge ...

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.

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Breaking the law is Okay?

by SQL_Joe In reply to I think people need to ge ...


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?

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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.

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You know...

by Cactus Pete In reply to Yes it is - kind of - may ...

I actually quote that MI law to my wife often.

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

by maxwell edison In reply to You know...

....that says a wife, never mind; I won't go there.

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I believe that law

by Cactus Pete In reply to And there ought to be ano ...

only exists in my castle at the moment...

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