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Should providers of unsecure Wi-Fi hotspots be fined?

By Why Me Worry? ·
I'm sure we have all seen groups of college students, business people, teenagers, even senior citizens all using their laptops to surf the web using the wireless networks available in places like Starbucks, public libraries, shopping malls, and other retail stores. These wireless networks employ no encryption or security and are basically an open door for anyone smart enough to know how to steal personal information by using a simple sniffer program. This raises a legal issue and begs the questions "Should the provider of the unsecure Wi-Fi hotspot be held liable if someone has their identity stolen by using that hotspot?". Yes, users are uneducated about wireless security and should not be expected to know what WEP or 3DES enryption is, but at the least, these places should display a warning to users of wireless laptops that they are wirelessly surfing the web at their own risk. I'm lobbying my state officials for such a bill to hold places like Starbucks and Atlanta Bread Company liable for what I deem as promoting unsafe computing habits. Do you agree or disagree on holding Wi-Fi hotspot providers liable if someone has his/her identity stolen?

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Common Sense

by yourdatakeeper In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

I don't access the bank or make purchases on an unsecured network. I don't even keep that type of info saved on my pc. Personally I appreciate the convenience people provide for me by making these networks available, but I do exercise reasonable precautions when I use them. It should be the responsibility of each user to do the same. People who use "unsecured" hotspots should know from the nature of the connection ("unsecured") that it means that what you send may be exposed. Those who want to offer connectivity to the public should not be penalized for trying to make the individual using a laptop able to be more mobile. Let's not make this another case of "No good deed shall go unpunished!"

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Who is Dumb and Who is Dumber

by gjsterner In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

Holding HotSpot providers liable for the stolen identity of a user is moving in the wrong direction.

I recently did an on-site survey of a Food Court where I?m in the process of setting up a HotSpot for the patrons to use.

I asked over 100 people if they knew how to setup WEP security for a wireless connection. In every case, I got a blank stare then they asked what it was. I also showed them my laptop and displayed the list of available wireless networks in the area. When I attempted to connect to a secure link and the ?enter the security key? window opened they were dumbfounded to explain what it meant.

If a Food Court were to implement either WEP or WPA encryption, how would the user be informed of the encryption key to be used? Do you put it on a display card on the table for everyone to see and walk away with.

At present, I don?t know of any way to programmatically and automatically add an encryption key to a wireless connection, on the fly from a introduction web page.

Until such time as technology provides a means to automatically add an encryption key to a user?s laptop or PDA for the appropriate SSID, the HotSpot provider cannot reasonably be held liable.

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No

by TheGooch1 In reply to Should providers of unsec ...
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Nose Job!

by wayne In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

In my opinion, and we all know what they say about opinions. I feel that we have to many people that don't have any thing better to do with their lives than stick their nose in everyone else's business. If ANY company or person wants to setup an open Wi-Fi spot then I think that any one that wants to use it should be allowed without someone else having to stick their nose in. If someones ID is stolen due to a Wi-Fi hot spot then it is up to our legal system to handle that situation and NOT someone off the street with NO legal back ground. If a company like Starbucks wants to put an open Wi-Fi system up for their customers then so be it, but they should have a sign up to at least protect their company from some sue happy idiot.

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That's the problem...

by mike In reply to Nose Job!

Even signs do not protect you from Sue Happy Idiots. No matter where you go you will find someone who will sue and someone who will accept the case. What we really need are lawyers ready to sue the sue happy idiots for frivolous law suits or better yet, change our legal system so that if you sue and YOU LOOSE YOU HAVE TO PAY ALL COURT COSTS AND LAWYER FEES... but that will never happen...

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The question is should providers of an insecure web site be fined

by pjboyles In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

Securing the wi-fi connection is not the solution. Web sites that contain sensitive information should be using secure protocols. A bank site should have no insecure content and neither should your e-mail provider. They should use "https" for all of their web traffic.

Securing the Wi-Fi point with encription only provides a failse sense of some security.

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That is why

by w2ktechman In reply to The question is should pr ...

I say the best thing to do would be to put out pamphlets at hot spots. These pamphlets can make suggestions about 'best practices' for using hot spots. They should also bring up the real threat of Identity Theft.

At minimum I think that hot spots should have a sign up, easily seen, that state that the network is unsecured.

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Agree to a point also

by MTWallet In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

Providers and users should have some kind of mini firewall in place already if not, users beware. Like the old saying " there is nothing free in this world today there is always someone out to screw with you.

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The super-highway or the highway

Equally, should the county council be liable for providing the tarmac for lunatic drivers to commit acts of death on?

Of course not, and by the same token it would be idiotic to suggest that free WiFi providers should be held responsible for idiot users.

It's up to us all to protect ourselves against the badies of the internet. Take responsibility for yourself and stop looking to blame others - particularly an easy target rather than the perpetrator.

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But to drive on the HWY

by w2ktechman In reply to The super-highway or the ...

you are supposed to have a drivers license right? Which basically means that you understand that there are rules of the road. Many hot spot users are ignorant of the 'rules' for an unsecure network. Having a pamphlet handy is not a bad idea.
it should help those that do not know, how better to help themselves.

If someone is too stupid to pick up the pamphlet, then that is their choice. But operating an unsecure network, and not doing anything is just as stupid.
Raise awareness, and I think customers may be happier with your efforts, and may just change some of their habits!

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