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Some 12% of Consumers 'Borrow' Unsecured Wi-Fi

Zonk posted about 6 years ago | from the other-88-percent-are-lying dept.

Wireless Networking 469

alphadogg writes "Despite the fact that it's often considered an illegal act, a sizeable percentage of the UK/US internet-using population 'borrows' unsecured Wi-Fi access. This is according to a study conducted by the group Accenture. 'The Accenture study found that computer users are still engaging in some unsafe computing practices. Nearly half of all respondents said that they used the same password for all of their online accounts, and only a quarter of them have ever encrypted files on their computers.'" My guess is the actual figure is higher than that.

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news.. (5, Funny)

thermian (1267986) | about 6 years ago | (#23104286)

This just in:
People on the internet 'steal' stuff they should pay for.

Re:news.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23104470)

Why can't I use a negligible amount of bandwidth when you are not using it?

Re:news.. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23104638)

Why can't I use a negligible amount of bandwidth when you are not using it?
The same reason you can't use my car when I'm not using it. I pay for it and I don't want to share with strangers.

Maybe that sounds selfish, but it doesn't matter. If you can't afford your own connection - tough. The internet is a luxury, not an entitlement.

Re:news.. (5, Insightful)

B'Trey (111263) | about 6 years ago | (#23104966)

No problem. Don't park your car on the street with the keys in it and with someone standing there offering to open the door to passer-bys who want to go for a ride. If your wireless connection is unsecured and offers DHCP configuration to anyone who wants to join, it's an open invitation. Basic security and MAC filtering are easy to configure. They won't stop a determined or knowledgable hacker, but that isn't the point. Anyone who's hacking in knows they're intruding where they aren't wanted and are committing an illegal act. But if you leave it wide open and the welcome mat out, then don't be surprised if someone makes use of your network.

Bandwith is not a car (2, Insightful)

roggg (1184871) | about 6 years ago | (#23105238)

Cars have maintenance costs caused by use. If I use your car when you are not, I am costing you money. If I use your bandwidth when you are not, I cant see how that really affects you in any way. Not saying it's right to do so. Just saying the analogy is flawed.

Re:Bandwith is not a car (1)

Zelos (1050172) | about 6 years ago | (#23105364)

Because many ISPs have usage limits, especially the cheaper options. The kind of non-technical person who doesn't secure their WiFi is quite likely to have a lower usage cap, because they don't use it so much.

Re:news.. (1, Insightful)

wattrlz (1162603) | about 6 years ago | (#23104644)

Same reason I shouldn't use a negligible amount of your money, house, girlfriend, or other stuff when you're not using it.

Re:news.. (1)

roggg (1184871) | about 6 years ago | (#23105184)

Same reason I shouldn't use a negligible amount of your money, house, girlfriend, or other stuff when you're not using it.

Most of my stuff is either consumable (my money), or incurs "wear and tear" as a result of use meaning either increased maintenance costs, or a shorter usable life span. Bandwidth has none of these problems. It's more like if you leave your TV on, and your curtains open, and I watch through the window. It may annoy you, but it's not putting you out any.

Using my "stuff" legitimately deprives me of something of value. Routing your bits through my access point when I'm not using it deprives me of nothing.

Re:news.. (1)

AlterRNow (1215236) | about 6 years ago | (#23105272)

The key difference being that those are all tangible items which suffer from a detrimental effect when they are used ( wear and tear, decrease in amount etc. ) while bandwidth is not tangible and does not suffer a detrimental effect. In other words, someone using your car costs you money, someone using your bandwidth costs you nothing ( monetary anyway, please note my last point in this post )

If everyone/most people shared their wireless, the ability to access the internet from anywhere would increase substantially. Yes, there would be free-loaders and there probably always will be but that shouldn't stop us from trying to make something better in my opinion.

Though I don't use Wi-Fi, if I did, my main reason for having it secured would be that if someone used my connection to do something illegal, I am not confident it would not be me that gets blamed.

Re:news.. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 6 years ago | (#23105282)


If I left my money, house, or girlfriend available on your property, I wouldn't really feel like I could complain if you helped yourself...That's what these people are doing. If I have a neighbor whose signal is strong enough to cause interference on my equipment, I feel no qualms about using his service.

If the WAP isn't even trivially secured, then that's an open invitation, same as having an FM radio signal crossing my property is an open invitation to monitor it. If you don't want other people to use it, don't leave it wide open.

Re:news.. (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | about 6 years ago | (#23104766)

Why can't I use a negligible amount of bandwidth when you are not using it?

Because you have no way of knowing whether or not a) it's a negligible amount of bandwidth and b) I'm using it.

Re:news.. (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | about 6 years ago | (#23104852)

Actually, a lot of routers (mine, Buffalo WHR-HP-G54 running DD-WRT) can tell you exactly both of those things, and prevent them.

Re:news.. (2, Interesting)

dtzitz (937838) | about 6 years ago | (#23105152)

Go ahead. I leave my wi-fi open for that very reason. I may get burned one day or I may change my posture before that. When I want security on the web I may switch over to my Linux partition and make sure the site I am using SSL but for playing games and browsing /. I am happy to let my neighbor use some of my bandwidth. Additionally there is software to authorize users once they have paid for access but that brings with it another host of issues.

Can someone help (4, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 6 years ago | (#23104306)

I am trying to connect to "Free Public Internet" but its not letting me.
Do I need a password?

Re:Can someone help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23104496)

Connect to my one. I have two routers, one open to claim plausible deniability in case of some law enforcing morons knocking on my door.

Of course those two are on different network segments with fw between.

Re:Can someone help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23105308)

Username: linksys
Password: admin

Gotta Remember, They're Users (5, Funny)

Toad-san (64810) | about 6 years ago | (#23104334)

Had a lady bring her laptop into our computer repair shop. "I can't get the Internet any more."

After extensive questioning (using very small words), I determined:

Her expensive laptop worked fine.

Her TCP/IP settings, web browser, etc. all worked just fine.

The wireless components and setup worked just fine.

What was NOT working fine was her neighbor's wireless access point. Apparently that fine fellow had either turned it off, lost his own internet connection, encrypted his WAP, or whatever.

She never knew she was using his connection, connecting to his WAP. She thought that, since the stick-on on her laptop said it had wireless and could reach the internet .. that it was a godz-given fact that, anywhere she went, she'd have internet access.

"But it works on campus."

Sigh .. more explanations.

Half an hour of my life, gone. And I don't even want to think about the brain damage.

Re:Gotta Remember, They're Users (4, Insightful)

lena_10326 (1100441) | about 6 years ago | (#23104474)

Everyone started out as a newbie.

Re:Gotta Remember, They're Users (5, Funny)

scubamage (727538) | about 6 years ago | (#23104514)

Sadly only a handful ever progress past that point.

Re:Gotta Remember, They're Users (2, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#23105104)

Sadly only a handful ever progress past that point

Is that twenty years' experience, or one year's experience twenty times?

Re:Gotta Remember, They're Users (2, Interesting)

Sobrique (543255) | about 6 years ago | (#23104588)

When computers were hard work, the newbie didn't get past the 'so where's this "any" key them?'. Sometimes I think it was better that way.

Re:Gotta Remember, They're Users (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | about 6 years ago | (#23105214)

I used to hate that attitude. But it's when anyone at the level of mildly competent or above winds up punished that I start to side that way.

Re:Gotta Remember, They're Users (1)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#23104772)

Wow, even the fairly informed can make mistakes. Windows has a fine way of prioritizing what APs it will choose to connect to. Read a story not long ago about someone who thought he was on his AP, but found out a year after installing it while troubleshooting a connection issues, that he had been using his neighbors AP.

So it goes...

Re:Gotta Remember, They're Users (5, Funny)

PeterKraus (1244558) | about 6 years ago | (#23104804)

When I started to work at our Laptop shop, I wondered at all those signs "Microsoft Windows is not OFFICE" and "You need a connection to internet with a wireless router to connect to internet wirelessly."

It's half a year later and, yes, people are stupid.

Re:Gotta Remember, They're Users (1)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#23105208)

When I started to work at our Laptop shop, I wondered at all those signs "Microsoft Windows is not OFFICE"

Must be all them Linux users that are trying to get by with the Windows that came preinstalled on their new machines. We're used to getting a full office suite with our operating systems!

Re:Gotta Remember, They're Users (3, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#23105058)

But you know, I see no reason whatever why the internet shouldn't be at least partly a free, mesh network. Set up all the laptops to be both a client and a server.

Of course, some big multionaltional corporations and their stooges will have hissy fits. Too bad fo rthem, hooray for the rest of us. If I get a laptop, I'll have wifi set up on my desktop, and it will be open. Because I'm not a selfish asshole.

Re:Gotta Remember, They're Users (1)

bman87 (1270544) | about 6 years ago | (#23105248)

I'll have wifi set up on my desktop, and it will be open. Because I'm not a selfish asshole.
Forgive me for being a selfish asshole and not sharing the 18Gb of downloads/uploads i pay $59 a month for - and use all of each month

And why is this bad? (5, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | about 6 years ago | (#23104378)

When you set up your wireless network you can choose whether to allow open access or not. If the network's owner has specified that anyone can use it, why is it bad to do so? I have my wireless router at home set up for open access and it does me no harm if others use it for occasional web browsing. The only flaw is that many routers don't have a way to prioritize or cap usage so that my work isn't slowed down by other people's Bittorrenting.

Yes, it's sent unencrypted - just like network traffic over those old-fashioned things called wires. We all know to use https and ssh for secure connections anyway.

Re:And why is this bad? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 6 years ago | (#23104520)

Its a lot more difficult for someone sat outside in their car to jack into your internet connection if you use those antiquated things called wires.

Initial security via a big lockable door is better than any encryption.

(Yes, once it leaves the house it can be jacked with a MITM attack, but I believe most wifi jackers don't carry the equipment necessary to get into my ADSL line or cable connection).

Re:And why is this bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23104580)

I think that it is admirable that you want to share, the problem is how do I know that you are leaving it open on purpose? If I see my neighbors garage door open, should I just assume he is willing to share his yard tools? If your front door is open, can I go in and take a nap on your couch?

Re:And why is this bad? (2, Interesting)

archkittens (1272770) | about 6 years ago | (#23104730)

if my neighbor is broadcasting his garage tools across a wide area of our neighborhood on a public freqency, why not enjoy? ideally though, you've got a setup like my neighbors and i have. i give them wifi, they let me use their hedge clippers.

Re:And why is this bad? (1)

FireXtol (1262832) | about 6 years ago | (#23104914)

You're confusing digital with physical. Don't feel bad, law makers do it religiously.

This is the internet. If I allow anonymous access to my FTP... then allow full (777) privleges on everything. It's my fault if anything bad happens.

Where is the personal responsibility?

The owner of the WAP has complete control over it. If the owner bothered calling the support number for the WiFi Router... a customer service rep would gladly assist the owner in securing his WiFi network.

An unsecured(open) WAP should be 100% legal to connect and use. Now then, even if you know the key to a secured network you should not be permitted to access it with authorization.

Re:And why is this bad? (1, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | about 6 years ago | (#23104590)

Its only bad because it hurts businesses, thats about it. Look how many public WiFi proposals get shot down on a regular basis. As for why its bad to leave it unsecured, Congress has basically decided that if you leave an access point unsecured and someone uses it to download kiddy porn, or talk to their 'terrorist' buddies overseas, you are guilty as an accomplice because, "you should know better."
More great legislation brought to us by a bunch of old WASPs and a few overzealous soccer moms.

Re:And why is this bad? (2, Interesting)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | about 6 years ago | (#23104764)

It may be against your terms of service for you to open it up. I remember in one of the contracts that I had with an ISP, it was in no uncertain terms, you were not allowed to share your connection with another. Too bad that it's not very enforceable as that was the sole purpose of having the line--to split the outrageous bill.

Re:And why is this bad? (2, Interesting)

auric_dude (610172) | about 6 years ago | (#23104794)

Some advocate stealing Wi-Fi links http://www.wired.com/politics/security/commentary/securitymatters/2008/01/securitymatters_0110 [wired.com] but only with the knowledge of the owner and besides the chances of being caught by the RIAA if a guest downloads something they should not is after all rather small.

Re:And why is this bad? (2, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | about 6 years ago | (#23104796)

No, the network's owner has specified the link isn't encrypted. That has nothing to do with whether or not the owner thinks its ok for YOU to use his network.

Re:And why is this bad? (1)

falzbro (468756) | about 6 years ago | (#23104830)

why is it bad to do so?

What if someone decides to download all sorts of child pornography, and it gets tracked back to your IP?

Re:And why is this bad? (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 6 years ago | (#23105168)

What a load of crap. How many pedophiles do you think are really out there?

You have been suckered by one of the four horseman of the internet Apocalypse. Used by Governments world wide to justify new laws.

Are you afraid of terrorists when you go to the movies? Or on your way to work? What about all those pedophiles that you walk past every day! They might take a look at you child! OMG Won't Someone thing of the children!!

Re:And why is this bad? (1)

ACMENEWSLLC (940904) | about 6 years ago | (#23104958)

>>the network's owner has specified that anyone can use it, why is it bad to do so?

If your ISP is through your Cable company, you are an accessory to cable theft unless you have an account which allows for sharing. Some offer a business class and allow for sharing.

If your ISP is through your phone company (DSL) and your contract forbids this (not all do) you are aiding in theft of phone services.

If you have a contract which allows you to share like this, consider contributing to the free hotspot community. [free-hotspot.com]

Re:And why is this bad? (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 6 years ago | (#23105042)

I have a FON access point with a booster and Just a plain wireless that I have left open for others to use. Its open because they are allowed to use it. They up to 50% of my bandwidth (2Mbit). Its cost me nothing, so why not?

Re:And why is this bad? (1)

rantingkitten (938138) | about 6 years ago | (#23105196)

Don't be naive. The owner of the WAP almost never "specifies" that it should be open. It comes that way by default. The overwhelming majority of people just plug the thing into their modem and consider it great that now they can take their laptop all over the house with this magic wireless thing.

If someone alters the SSID to state that it's meant for public use that's one thing. But to act like any open AP is an indication of the owner's intent is idiotic.

All the mindless bleating around here, about how your computer "asked" for an IP and the router said "okay", doesn't change that. Nor do any of the silly analogies about water fountains in your front yard, or unlocked doors.

This is slashdot. We all know how users think when it comes to technology. Why do we want to pretend that on this one topic, those same users are suddenly extremely savvy and are deliberately leaving their APs open, instead of acknowledging that they're doing the same thing they do with everything else -- getting it functional and leaving it the hell alone after that?

no differentiation- regular or intermittent? (3, Interesting)

call -151 (230520) | about 6 years ago | (#23104396)

This is a pretty inane study- there is a huge difference between occasionally looking for an open wireless when away from home to browse and using a neighbor's open wireless as your main pipe. And the comments about identity theft are ridiculous, as most sensible people adjust their browsing/net use when using unknown networks to reflect their uncertainty in its security.

Re:no differentiation- regular or intermittent? (4, Informative)

bcattwoo (737354) | about 6 years ago | (#23104572)

And the comments about identity theft are ridiculous, as most sensible people adjust their browsing/net use when using unknown networks to reflect their uncertainty in its security.
Great, now how many internet users fall under the category of "sensible people"? Given the number of people I see on the internet that are unaware of simple things like when and if they will get that "tax rebate", I suspect the number that realize their vulnerability when borrowing someone else's connection to be rather low.

Re:no differentiation- regular or intermittent? (1)

dmd53 (1269344) | about 6 years ago | (#23104758)

While I admire your high regard for the common sense of the common man, I'd be willing to bet that the most egregious infractions of good security sense are those perpetrated by people who don't know any better, rather than those who willfully disregard the risks. I've seen friends of mine--students among the brightest in the nation, no less--check their bank account balance on a public terminal connected to open Wi-Fi in a hotel lobby, and then shut the browser window and walk away--no logout, no cleared cookies or browser history, nothing.

On the other hand, people who are cavalier about their private information end up being the ones who suffer the consequences. Let's hear it for a little poetic justice, neh?

Ideally, no one really cares. (2, Insightful)

EricR86 (1144023) | about 6 years ago | (#23104440)

But if they start borrowing and eating your already limited bandwidth and start choking your connection. Then just use some form of encryption and be done with it (AES).

It doesn't really matter whether or not it's illegal, they put themselves at risk if they transmit wireless on an unencrypted connection

I do, because Sympatico SUCKS. (0)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 6 years ago | (#23104456)

I use sympatico DSL, and its so unreliable and badly throttled, that at least half the time I don't bother and leech off my neighbour who has wireless hooked up to her cable modem. It's actually FASTER for me to get data at 50% strength on wireless from the lady downstairs than it is for me to ethernet directly to my DSL modem. Pathetic. I'm moving in a few months and CANNOT WAIT to ditch sympatico.


Re:I do, because Sympatico SUCKS. (2, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 6 years ago | (#23104960)

Um, if the cable service is so much better, why don't you get it yourself? I can't believe the cable company told you, "No, that's one floor further up, we don't run coax up there."

Re:I do, because Sympatico SUCKS. (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 6 years ago | (#23105092)

Because I have a 1 year contract that's up in July. As I said: I'm moving house, so in June, so as soon as we move, it'll be bye bye Sympatico.



Re:I do, because Sympatico SUCKS. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23105032)

Um, if Sympatico are so bad, why don't you switch to the ISP your neighbour is using? Most of the time when people complain about their ISP, it's because there aren't any other options in their area. Clearly that isn't the case for you.

Higher figure? (2, Interesting)

phoenix_nz (1252432) | about 6 years ago | (#23104464)

I have my doubts that more people 'borrow' Wi-Fi access. But as I couldn't find a link to the actual study, this is hard to confirm.
Personally I would guess that the result is much lower than in the study. None of my acquaintances have ever piggy-backed wi-fi, and that includes cosc (Computer Science) students, software engineers in the industry and of course plenty of people that know nothing about computers. At the same time only one person I know encrypts any hard-drive data (no not me).

I don't see why piggy-backing wi-fi is illegal, after all if someone leaves their gate open, they shouldn't be surprised if someone else walks through. (Note: If you misuse the network to steal data of your host, the stealing should obviously still be illegal)

Re:Higher figure? (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | about 6 years ago | (#23104640)

So phoenix_nz If you left your car unlocked you would not mind if I used it to race down the local strip mall? Also none of your friends have "Admitted" to piggy-backing a Wi-Fi signal, since it is illegal and probably a reason to get kicked out of Uni/College/School/Job whatever..

Re:Higher figure? (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | about 6 years ago | (#23104768)

... If you misuse the network to steal data of your host, the stealing should obviously still be illegal
Yeah, but how are you going to enforce that? Easier to just pass a blanket, "No Trespassing" law and be done with it.

Re:Higher figure? (2, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | about 6 years ago | (#23104842)

Trespass is trespass, whether the gate is open or not.

Re:Higher figure? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#23105252)

IINM (and iANAL) in Illinois you must have a "no trespassing" sign posted before you can prosecute someone for tresspass.

If you set your wifi up unsecured, there's no "no tresspassing" sign.

WTF? (3, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | about 6 years ago | (#23104472)

Where exactly is this "considered an illegal act"?

How the hell do you "consider" something to be illegal? It either is, or isn't.

How the hell is 12% a "sizeable percentage"?

Someone's really trying hard to make an article out of nothing.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23104678)

Uh, by considered I believe they do mean it is illegal. And it's illegal in the US without specific consent from the network owner. Accessing a wireless network you're not authorized to be on is considered a felony terrorist act, punishable by 30 years in prison. (Even though it should be just a misdemeanor B&E at best if you do no damage.)

Re:WTF? (1)

faclonX (759436) | about 6 years ago | (#23104710)

In Canada from what I've read and interpreted from the Laws regarding it, it is called "Theft of a Wireless Communications Signal" or something along those lines. Its punished the same way as people who stupidly put up antennas and broadcast shit over registered radio bands and then claim they didn't know. Truthfully, I use open wireless occasionally, but I use it to quickly check email or other low bandwidth things, which I tunnel through a secured VPN to my personal network, as well, I have the endpoint set to re-direct all traffic over the VPN. Now I just need to find my tinfoil hat so they can't read my brainwaves.

Re:WTF? (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 6 years ago | (#23104806)

How the hell do you "consider" something to be illegal? It either is, or isn't.

It must be kind of like skateboarding.

But seriously, it's a question of whether existing laws can be {twisted, interpreted} to apply to an {arbitrary, unforeseen} situation. That is, it depends on the state courts. What laws the DA tries to apply, depends on his {whim, professional judgment}.

IANAL and all that.

Re:WTF? (5, Funny)

BrotherBeal (1100283) | about 6 years ago | (#23104894)

Someone's really trying hard to make an article out of nothing.
Just wait a while and the editors will make two.

Go Statistics!!!! Yeahh!!! (1)

PYRILAMPES (609544) | about 6 years ago | (#23104526)

So 96 people, some in the US and some in the UK accessed unsecured wireless for an indeterminable amount of time from an unnamed source. New study just out! 100% of landline phone customers have service with companies that allow random strangers to access their phone records! How many of the 12% accessed the service accidentally? At coffee shops? Mcdonalds? Nice contrite study results. Not much reference data... 800? How many in the US?.. Plus if they were random, how many were on the no call list?

Sociological breakthrough! (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 6 years ago | (#23104530)

People actually share free things.

Collectively we're quite evil, but when it comes to free things, we can make the superhuman effort of sharing them.

However, this usually only works when it takes more effort to avoid sharing them.

Check for your natural sharing instincts in this situations:

You have to take out the garbage. You'd rather:

A. Take the garbage out yourself.
B. Share the garbage with the neighbor.
C. Pull out your own eyeballs with a rusty wooden sock.

You have to set up your network. You'd rather:

A. Configure it securely with a complex password you'll have to remember.
B. Not give a shit. At all. Not even to understand what a network is.
C. Cowboy Neal.

Not surprised (3, Informative)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 years ago | (#23104536)

I have a Speedstream 6-series-something (6200?) router, and it has this problem where if you disable the wireless, you have to do a hard reset to enable it again. Long story short I was running an open wireless network for a while, and there was never less than two leechers on the network, in a well-spaced neighborhood full of old people in a third world country. I'd hate to see what would happen to an open wireless network in a crowded metropolis.

Other interesting fact: Me and a friend were wardriving with just a regular laptop, no special antennae, speeding down the highway, and we picked up a LOT of networks, often with a good signal. Some of these were in places with no buildings in sight. When I get a working laptop again I plan to implement a setup that leeches off open networks as I drive (mainly for a Google Earth-based navigation system, anything sensitive will either have to be encrypted or left out), and I have no doubt it will work nicely.

Same password? (2, Insightful)

Sobrique (543255) | about 6 years ago | (#23104538)

Yeah, I use the same password, for all the sites that require that I 'register'. So I use a fairly generic, almost dictionary word, because that way I actually get to _probably_ log into J random nonentity site that I don't give a toss about registering on, next time around.

Stuff I vaguely care about, gets better passwords, and regular changes.

That's not 'insecurity' that's 'too many places insisting on registration'.

MORE than half use the same password... (4, Interesting)

rdhatch (1253652) | about 6 years ago | (#23104550)

"Nearly half of all respondents said that they used the same password for all of their online accounts..." I have statistical evidence (sample size of a little over 5000) that proves that says that the percentage is MUCH higher...more like 80-85%. We talk all the time about privacy, net security, identity theft, etc., but this something that is VERY often overlooked. There are many LAMP projects out there (mostly put together by high schoolers or ambitious university freshmen) that collect an email and a password for their own user authentication and then don't encrypt their users' passwords in database. Dishonest 15 year-old admin + one select query on his own database and then approx 80% of the time you have access to the users' email account. From there, the sky's the limit. Online banking, university login accounts, etc. Troubling to say the least. We need a LOT more education of stupid kids that don't know how to encrypt passwords safely in their DB. Furthermore, we need to remember good old fashion ethics in this stuff.

But you get permission every time (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23104574)

It always seemed odd to me that this was illegal, when in reality you are asking for and getting permission. That is, as everyone here would know, your laptop (for example) has to ask the wireless router for permission to connect. The router then grants permission and allocates an IP, all within its normal operating process (i.e., no trickery or hacking involved). It is not a passive process, like, say, entering an unlocked home, in which the house is passively exploited.

Re:But you get permission every time (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23105064)

Oh please. Saying the router grants you permission to connect is like saying my unlocked door grants you permission to enter my house. Both my door and my router have the same right to give away something I pay for - none at all.

The point is the law doesn't exist to protect routers is exists to protect the people who own the routers. Logging onto an unsecured network is every bit as passive as entering an unlocked house, because their is no human giving you permission in either case.

Maybe in the far future if routers are sentient and recognized under the law as having rights, you may have a point. But not today.

Re:But you get permission every time (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 years ago | (#23105346)


The point you are missing is that it is NOT at ALL like entering an unlocked house.

It is like entering an unlocked BUILDING.

When you see an wifi connection, all you have is a name. You DON'T know if it is someone's house, a bank, or a bus stop, or a church.

CHARITIES EXIST. There are places that legally leave open a wifi connection for anyone to use. Similarly, Churches exist. They open there doors to everyone.

It is NO more wrong to enter an open wifi connection and use it, then it is to step out of the rain into an open building.

It is the responisbility of the OWNER of the building/wifi to lock the doors/connection if they don't want people to use it.

This way it lets the wonderful people offering free access (like say the co-op where I buy my food has an open wifi connection, or the church across the street) do so without hinderance.

You want privacy, you have an ISP contract that prevents other people from using your wifi? Fine it is YOUR responsibility to protect it, not ours.

The charities have the right not to be forced to go to ridiculous lengths to tell people that 'yes it is OK to use us'. Similarly innocent people have the RIGHT to assume it is a charity if you are so moronic as to not even put a lock on the door or ANY sign at all that it is not a charitable free wifi.

and this is a problem because? (3, Interesting)

archkittens (1272770) | about 6 years ago | (#23104612)

if you dont want your community to use your wireless, but you want the ease of unsecured access, use mac address filtering on your wireless router. most all 802.11b/g/n integrated service routers come with that feature in an easy to use package. if you CBA to keep people off your network, it WILL be used.

it makes it a bit harder to add devices to the network, but once again, tis still easy.

i keep mine unsecured simply so that if there is ever a disaster in the area, the cisco NERV (i got to tour it the other day, was awesome) can override it and add it to the disaster mesh. i think of it as community service.

http://blogs.cisco.com/news/2007/11/video_ciscos_network_emergency.html [cisco.com]

Warned my neighbour (5, Interesting)

scsirob (246572) | about 6 years ago | (#23104628)

I came across an unsecured network with strong signal a while ago. Turned out to be someone across the street. They had 4 Windows systems attached, with C: drives shared, unprotected. I also found a shared printer on their network.

I warned them by printing a page on that shared printer, identifying myself and describing the problem. Next day the access point was secure..

doing so right now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23104630)

in chengdu, china. wep key: "apple"

Same password = throwaway stuff (3, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | about 6 years ago | (#23104666)

I'm guilty of using the same password on a lot things online. Several forums, throwaway email addresses, "register to read the rest of this article" news sites, etc. Basically, the stuff I don't really care about, and I don't give two hoots if it gets h4x0r3d.

I don't particularly see that as an "unsafe" practice, since none of it really matters.

Things I actually care about (personal email, anything work related, etc) get real passwords, and things that can really cause problems (banking, etc) don't get done via the internet at all.

User beware (1)

headhot (137860) | about 6 years ago | (#23104712)

IF its open I use it. If you don't want me to use it put a password on it.

When I set up my WiFi I know full well that if there isn't a password, other people will use it.

I lived in a large apartnemt complex that was mostly college students. I could see about 20 open wi-fi systems.

Frequently they would be unprotected and often they were stepping on my frequencies. I did them the favor of configuring, changing the channel and passwording the systems for them.

IShareWiFi (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23104734)

I share my WiFi with anyone within range. It hasn't been a problem, I'm happy if a neighbor can make use of it.

In an apartment. (5, Interesting)

WaltherPPK (1267864) | about 6 years ago | (#23104752)

Living in an apartment, I was actually surprised with the opposite. It appears that there are 20 or so wireless networks with good signal strength in range, and I am in a corner of the building. However, there is not a single network that isn't using some form of encryption. I don't know if this is typical, but all the supposed luddites living in this building (a combination of college/university age couples and 50+ year old singles) have obviously figured their wireless routers out.

The other premise upon which people base a lot of paranoia regarding network and personal computer security is the assumption that they possess something worth stealing. There are many effective credit card fraud methods in use that don't require any sort of computer exploitation, but rather involve "social engineering." What other information does the average person have on his PC that is of value? Of course I would be disturbed if somebody managed to obtain my entire photograph library, but that is of so little value to somebody else, I doubt very much that any significant effort would be put towards obtaining it.

Re:In an apartment. (1)

Zelos (1050172) | about 6 years ago | (#23105320)

Same here (terraced house in a small city in the UK), I can see 11 networks from my office and they're all encrypted.

Considering how close I've been to my ISP bandwidth cap this month, I'd be seriously pissed off if someone used my connection without permission.

No open networks around me (2, Interesting)

JimCDiver (1217114) | about 6 years ago | (#23104774)

In my neighborhood I can see 8 access points. Every one of them encrypted. Granted 6 of them use WEP...

iPod touch (1)

QBasicer (781745) | about 6 years ago | (#23104798)

I keep my ipod touch's wireless on, and not only on, but to auto-associate with any open wireless it finds. I do this for a couple reasons. 1) My last fm song information can get scrobbled as I walk around. 2) I can get my mail delivered to me away from my home/work computer. Since all my mail is ssl, it's not a big deal. And who cares about my lastfm account information. I've thought about many times creating a public wifi hotspot around my house that limits connections to http only, although I'm not sure how that opens me up in the legal sense. It's bad when you're trying to be honest and help people and you get burned.

I'm doing it right now (0, Redundant)

macdaddy (38372) | about 6 years ago | (#23104882)

I'm borrowing my new neighbor's wifi to post from my new house. Unfortunately my ISP hasn't yet gotten my Internet to work. Oh wait, I am the ISP! My bad.

For fun (2, Interesting)

scubamage (727538) | about 6 years ago | (#23104910)

For fun, go to a local mall and turn on a wifi sniffer of your choice. Our local podunk mall had no less than 30 unsecured wireless networks, almost all for stores which held servers with financial data. And thats what I found with a smartphone using totalcommander and wififofum.

Re:For fun (2, Informative)

rrkap (634128) | about 6 years ago | (#23105322)

It's funny, when I moved to my new apartment complex I could see about 40 wireless networks and every one of them was secure. I think that secure networks are becoming more common as the cable and DSL modems with built in wireless access that they provide come secure by default.

Nearly half of all respondents said that they used (3, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#23104946)

Nearly half of all respondents said that they used the same password for all of their online accounts

Like newspaper registrations? Rather than bother with bugmenot, I just register using bogus data. My password is 111111. Because I really don't give a shit about a newspaper registration. It has nothing whatever to do with security. The Chicago Tribune has no CC#s, SS#s or any other real, personally identifiable information about me; I don't even know why they bother.

Yet this is somehow deemed a "Security risk." And I don't send encrypted data; if it's sensitive information I'll send it snail mail.

Re:Nearly half of all respondents... (1)

webdog314 (960286) | about 6 years ago | (#23105332)

The problem with this is that YOU are not Joe Consumer. The average internet user might write to blogs, buy products, check their insurance, email, etc. They might have as many as two dozen or more sites that all require them to have an account. Sure, some people might use throw-away info on a few, but I wouldn't bet the majority do. And do you really think those same people are going to memorize a purposely non-intuitive, unique, alphanumeric password for each site? Not a chance.

heh (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 6 years ago | (#23104992)

Yeah, my neighbors just got a laptop & have been using my Wi-Fi from their front porch. We're good friends so it doesn't bother me. I'm pretty surprised it can reach them being 802.11b & over 300 feet away. Not too big of a deal as no one else lives within at least 1000 feet of my router. If I lived in the city I'd have that shit locked down tight.

how many custmers bothered by "Unsecured Wi-Fi" (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | about 6 years ago | (#23104994)

Like me, when I am working in my bedroom, I must check if I am connected to my neighbor's wireless network, because his network is way slower than mine.

Convenient (1)

leighton (102540) | about 6 years ago | (#23105068)

My own access point is secured, but I do use unsecured ones from time to time (there are a few in my neighborhood). It's an advantage when I'm having problems with my own wifi--I can check to see if other connections in the neighborhood are working (if not, it's probably a problem with the cable company) and I can access the internet to look up troubleshooting information, etc. All of that is much quicker than calling Comcast.

I don't do anything *important* while I'm using someone else's wifi, but it is convenient.

And I don't encrypt anything on my home hard drive. Frankly, I don't think I have any files that are that important. I do encrypt many of my work files, but that's because they include medical data....

The word "consumer" (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | about 6 years ago | (#23105078)

I've always found the word "consumer" to have a sinister connotation. It implies hierarchy and control, and implies that there are people in society who do, and then there are those who just receive. It's offensive.

Dammit, we're "citizens", "people", "internet users", and a million other terms. I never want to be called a "consumer".

not suprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23105146)

reminds me of a comment my roommate's sister made. She came to stay over in our apartment building and was shocked to find that she could log into this linksys network. "It must be huge! I can log into it everywhere i go!"

I say THANK YOU... (1)

Tortooga (1260148) | about 6 years ago | (#23105154)

I would like to start by saying thank you to "Ryan" who has been broadcasting his SSID and glorious wi-fi to me at a my home. I do not have any internet access - well, that *I* pay for. And this seemed like a good time to thank "Ryan" - at least I am assuming his name is Ryan, as that is the SSID. You're the best! See, now it's not stealing, I said "thanks" so I am assuming it's a gift. I mean - it WAS put into my home w/o me asking for it...

and why not? (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 6 years ago | (#23105176)

if it's unsecured, that means either two things, the owner intended it to be used, or the owner is blatantly oblivious to security and the notion that you have to turn it on.
if the oblivious owner had intended to deny access, he would have sought a way to do it.
either way, open use is implied.

Even more shocking ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23105178)

A startling 99% of people have had a drink from a public water fountain.

End EULAs (1)

F34nor (321515) | about 6 years ago | (#23105232)

It's my bandwidth, I paid for it, I should be able to do whatever I want with it. Hell if I open my base station to all and some poor person uses it I'd like to be able to take that as a charitable donation as a matter of fact. The real problem here is that the last mile is controlled by a bunch of people that know for a fact that the end of their business model is neigh. Cell phones? Well the advent of WiMax and VoIP means that a great many of them are totally fucked. In fact as a owner of a Nokia e61 with Fring and a Wifi antenna living in a city with MetroFi I can already not use a cell phone a great deal of the time. Peer to peer mobile phones combined with Merkai type mesh base stations could be the beginning of a true free nationwide cloud. Buy alarm lines to your neighbors and run Ethernet over unlit POTS. Run your own fiber from the edge of neighborhood to the next one.
Hell why not go whole hog and make most of the spectrum into one open cloud. Then we use peer to peer mesh handsets, towers and base stations that have wide bandwidth fractal antennas that can use any part of the spectrum. If you want access you give the devices the ability to buy and sell redirection in a free market system. So I have a handset and want a very large file quickly, in my area there is low use and it is two hops to the nearest fiber, My handset negotiates with the people around me to rebroadcast from the fiber to me. I pay them the agreed upon rate for the retransmission. We could wipe away massive amounts of garbage and open up a huge vibrant pervasive ultra high bandwidth world. You can give military, EMS, and aviation fixed spectrum or just make them pay drastically lower rates when needed.
  The current system is being crippled by the fact that it is easier for Verizon to buy a congressman or a local assembly then to fix their business model.

Hypothetically here.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23105240)

A neighbor has a tree, and that tree's shade extends into your yard. Is it illegal for you to sit underneath that shade and enjoy it while it's available to you? I think not. How is wifi different?

Consumers Don't Know (1)

Wamoc (1263324) | about 6 years ago | (#23105264)

I used to work in office supplies and we sold networking hardware. All the time people would be shocked that they needed to pay for internet service and not just use a wireless card.
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