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UK Man Convicted For Wi-Fi Piggybacking

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago

The Courts 659

CatrionaMcM tips us to a BBC story reporting that Gregory Straszkiewicz, a UK resident, was fined £500 and sentenced to a conditional discharge for 12 months after being caught using a laptop from a car parked outside somebody else's house. '[H]e was prosecuted under the Communications Act and found guilty of dishonestly obtaining an electronic communications service.' A separate BBC story notes that two other people in England were arrested and cautioned for sharing Wi-Fi uninvited.

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659 comments

Open AP? (5, Interesting)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773337)

How does one figure out if the AP is for public use or just someone who forgot to set it up properly?

Re:Open AP? (5, Insightful)

dotgain (630123) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773391)

Uhh, the utter lack of advertisement that it's for public use?

Re:Open AP? (5, Insightful)

Noah Adler (627206) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773587)

Such as an SSID advertisement?

Re:Open AP? (0)

dotgain (630123) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773761)

If you wear a sticker that says "Hi, my name is John", does that permit me to do with you whatever I want?

My car displays its number plate "YE2242". Does that mean you're allowed to use YE2242 for anything I use it for?

Re:Open AP? (1, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773645)

A broadcast of "Hey! This is my SSID! Would you like an IP address? Here you go! Have a nice day!" sounds like an advertisement to me.

Re:Open AP? (1)

dotgain (630123) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773803)

Dump from your packet sniffer please. Should I expect to find those exact words, or just something along those lines?

Re:Open AP? (2, Insightful)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773395)

Pretty simple really...

Unless you are told/informed/read other wise, a network is NOT public. It's no different than seeing an unlocked door. You wouldn't just walk in and look around would you?

Re:Open AP? (5, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773509)

It's no different than seeing an unlocked door. You wouldn't just walk in and look around would you?
That depends, is it a shop?

Re:Open AP? (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773535)

Unless you are told/informed/read other wise, a network is NOT public. It's no different than seeing an unlocked door. You wouldn't just walk in and look around would you?

I love this example, because there is a legal difference in many jurisdictions between locked and unlocked doors.

If you defeat a lock and enter a building, that is breaking and entering. But if the door is unlocked the most you can be convicted of (providing you haven't damaged or stolen anything) is trespassing.

The law should really make the same distinction about networks.

Re:Open AP? (4, Insightful)

JackHoffman (1033824) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773573)

It's no different than seeing an unlocked door.

Yes, it is very much different from seeing an unlocked door. That's why intelligent people don't resort to analogies to discuss simple concepts like communication over radiowaves. The established standard has means of negotiation that allow people to use a shared resource without prior agreements. Using the standard is vital to many interesting and legitimate uses of the shared resource. You're advocating a restriction on useful applications to give technological nitwits the illusion of safety, while in reality their baseless assumption of being protected only causes them to be more vulnerable because they see no need to secure their networks. There is not even one good reason for punishing the use of open access points by anyone.

Backwards.... (5, Insightful)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773579)

Unless you are told/informed/read other wise, a network is NOT public.

Technically, the structure of the internet is built on a 'Default allow' schema. Essentially, if you don't say 'no' then I can. I don't have to get permission to use your web server, your anonymous FTP server, or route over your backbone. If you choose to, you can of course block all of those, but you have to choose to disallow me access.

Add to that the facts that public 'hot spots' are more & more common & XP will sometimes jump from one network to another without asking and you have a recipee for legal chaos when incompetents leave their AP's open.

It's no different than seeing an unlocked door. You wouldn't just walk in and look around would you?

Do it all the time - I don't actually remember the last time a business had someone out front asking me to come in.

Re:Open AP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773655)

It's no different than seeing an unlocked door.

This is very different then an unlocked door located on private property. A closed door provides some security, and it is located on private property.

The radio waves are broadcast into public space, open and unencrypted. There is no door, and the signal is a public area. Encryption would make the signal private, as the decryption key is private.

An open wireless network is like a park bench sitting on the public sidewalk. If you don't want people sitting on your precious park bench, then put a sign up. Better yet, move the bench into your own private space, secured by a fence, lock, property line or whatever.

Re:Open AP? (1)

kt0157 (830611) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773755)

Right, so you got a priori permission for every web page of every web site you visited today? Or did you just assume that when you sent those HTTP requests that you had permission to get the computer the other end to send you replies?

Re:Open AP? (2, Funny)

Darktan (817653) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773397)

Easy. Simply check: Am I in Britain? Yes? Then the AP is not for public use, or possible intended for use at all.

Re:Open AP? (1)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773429)

The article says:

People with criminal intentions have, in the past, attempted to use the openness of their own wireless networks to cover their tracks online.
"There have been incidences where paedophiles deliberately leave their wireless networks open so that, if caught, they can say that is wasn't them that used the network for illegal purposes," said NetSurity's Mr Cracknell.
Such a defence would hold little water as the person installing the network, be they a home user or a business, has ultimate responsibility for any criminal activity that takes place on that network, whether it be launching a hack attack or downloading illegal pornography.
Removing the think of the children aspect, is the part I put in bold actually true?

Re:Open AP? (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773529)

How are you supposed to setup a secure wireless network? WEP can be cracked in minutes, and MAC address filtering can be worked around by MAC address spoofing. So, how can anyone expect the average user to take responsibility for hackers hacking into their wireless networks? It sounds like people in the UK will have to resort back to wired networks.

Re:Open AP? (2, Insightful)

MoHaG (1002926) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773693)

At least setting up WEP will prove that you did not intend anyone else to use your network....

Re:Open AP? (1)

computational super (740265) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773825)

But that's not what the quote says. The quote says "the person installing the network, be they a home user or a business, has ultimate responsibility for any criminal activity that takes place on that network", not "the person installing the network, be they a home user or a business, has ultimate responsibility for any criminal activity that takes place on that network unless they set up WEP". That's, um, pretty terrifying actually...

Re:Open AP? (1)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773541)

Well, I heard the interview this evening on the PM programme, and the police representative said that basically if your wireless network is wide open and as a consequence is used by someone else for criminal purposes, then you will suffer a great deal of inconvenience at the very least.

Your equipment will be confiscated for forensic analysis and it will be a while before you get it back. The analysis will probably show that it wasn't you - but do you really want to take that risk, and do you want to be without your computer and broadband access for six months while they establish that?

Witchcraft (2, Interesting)

kt0157 (830611) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773613)

Oh that's a watertight legal opinion. So if I left my keys in the car and someone stole it, I'm responsible for the people they kill? And if I watch someone's TV through their window, that's theft? Or I read my newspaper by the light coming out of their window?

You should all note that the law these people have been accused of breaking is one designed to stop people stealing cable TV using hacked decoders. It was not designed for "theft" of Internet access. There is a defence to the accusation that the service was made public. However, in the recent cases the accused didn't get to make a defence, and probably never received legal advice anyway: they admitted "guilt" to the police, who are neither impartial nor independent, in order to have the case dropped.

But in New Salem (formerly known as Great Britain) anything that could possibly be construed as possibly putting possible children at possible risk by possible pedophiles is treated as a priori evidence of guilt of child abuse.

Re:Open AP? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773451)

TFA sucks, but I'm going to guess that this AP wasn't open.

It seems unlikely that they'd want their first case to be that shaky.

Or, since it seems to say he was seen sitting in his car, and cops were called because that raised suspicion - he could have openly admitted to the officer what he was doing, and you wouldnt need any evidence past that.

Whats the deal in the UK, are court records not available?

I know in Canada, at least, the system is a little less transparent.

Re:Open AP? (1)

u19925 (613350) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773515)

In most cases, you would know by common sense whether the network is public or the owner is security challenged. Almost all public wi-fi services will require you to register before using the service. You can't use neighbor's water hose to water your garden or use their outdoor plug point to light your porch. I can guarantee, the person knew that he was stealing the network connection. If once in a blue moon, you need to access internet in emergency and use such an open connection, it may be pardoned. But if you are a habitual stealer, then you are no different than a shop-lifter.

Re:Open AP? (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773689)

Agree in that context it would be like stealing water or electric. Though my concern is how do you really determine in most cases? I've known people who leave their AP open so people can go online check email, etc. In the town I live there are several legal to use open AP that require no form of authentication. Coffee shops, etc.. there's also libraries, McDonalds, and people who willingly leave their AP's open. So the area is kinda grey. In this case, I do agree sitting outside someone's house is pretty obvious.

Re:Open AP? (1)

MoHaG (1002926) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773765)

I have never used a public Wifi network (Bandwidth is expensive in ZA). How am I supposed to know that a network that my PC says is a public network?

Someone left their keys in the car (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773589)

How should I have known it was not for public use?

I think that the courts are likely to take reasonable public access into account. If you just stumble across an AP that does not make it public any more than if you happen to find an unlocked door on a house.

Re:Open AP? Name it Free or Open (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773623)

How does one figure out if the AP is for public use or just someone who forgot to set it up properly?

YOu can use the word 'Free' or 'Open' in your SSID -- or use a URL like I do. My SSIDs are all 'pghwireless.net [pghwireless.net]'. Although it is tough to get to a URL when aren't sure you have permission.

If you're an AP owner -- make it obvious for the random stumbler. Use the built in encryption to keep people out, or use the words 'Open', 'Free', or something to try to make it obvious.

Absolute cad! (0)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773795)

How does one figure out if the AP is for public use
I say my good man, just because the story's set in England doesn't mean one has^H^H you have to talk all hoiteley-toiteley.

Still, "dishonestly obtaining an electronic communications service" sounds like the act of a dreadful bounder, what? It simply isn't cricket, old boy.

Good, I hope this continues and moves to the US (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773351)

Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you have the right to.

Re:Good, I hope this continues and moves to the US (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773413)

Yup. Now I'm going to go after my neighbors. Their plants steal the CO2 I emit.

Re:Good, I hope this continues and moves to the US (1)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773417)

"Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you have the right to" You my friend are a troll ...

Good, I hope this continues and moves to "/." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773731)

Indeed? Good thing the VT shooter went with your version then.

Re:Good, I hope this continues and moves to the US (4, Insightful)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773433)

Say it to all kids in UK who vandalize everything around without even a slap in hand.
But for piggybacking wi-fi they charge you £500. Cool. They should also put him in jail, just to show how dangerous for society his actions were.

UK has a lousiest law system in the world, IMHO. I know it well - I live here.

Re:Good, I hope this continues and moves to the US (1)

kt0157 (830611) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773801)

"They should also put him in jail, just to show how dangerous for society his actions were."

Oh won't somebody please think of the children!

Re:Good, I hope this continues and moves to the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773497)

Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you have the right to.

Your router broadcast itself into the public space, unencrypted and unsecured. YOU gave network access to ME.

If you don't want people to use your network, then encrypt and secure the network. It's easy to do. If you cannot figure out how to close the network, turn off the router and ship the box back to the manufacturer.

Millions of people & businesses leave their networks open on purpose, so that others may freely share the access.

Re:Good, I hope this continues and moves to the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773727)

Exactly.

I guess the next step is to arrest people for watching the video or listening to the audio from a cable TV broadcast that happens to be coming through someone's open window.

To be on the safe side, I suggest installing earplugs and a blindfold before walking down the sidewalk on warm days.

Well... (-1, Troll)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773365)

What about US laws?

I'm NOT in the UK.

Re:Well... (3, Insightful)

Elentari (1037226) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773419)

Well, I am, and I don't post the comment you just made on every story that concerns US law.

There are other countries besides yours.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773675)

Just as well otherwise there'd be nowhere for them to invade and undertake regime change

Crime to use open wifi? (3, Interesting)

MoHaG (1002926) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773367)

So accepting people's invitation to use their Wifi (by not securing it) is a crime...

It is the same as accusing someone of copyright infringement if they listen to their neighbor's CDs because their sound system is too loud...

PS: I still need to RTFA

Re:Crime to use open wifi? (3, Funny)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773425)

Next time you hear your neighbour's music, the moral thing to do is cover your ears so you can't hear music for free.

Let's extend this to wifi... (1)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773659)

If Alice's wifi extends into Bob's house, what happens when Bob doesn't notice that his computer automatically joined Alice's network during startup (before it detected Bob's network)?

Re:Crime to use open wifi? (3, Insightful)

dotgain (630123) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773471)

So accepting people's invitation to use their Wifi (by not securing it) is a crime...
Judge: Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realise you'd been invited to use that access point. Let's see your invite. Oh, wait - you mean since you weren't explicitly forbidden from using the access point, that's an implicit invitation.

It is the same as accusing someone of copyright infringement if they listen to their neighbor's CDs because their sound system is too loud...
Your analogy is missing a car or two. IOW, it's not a particularly apt analogy.

Re:Crime to use open wifi? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773631)

Judge: Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realise you'd been invited to use that access point. Let's see your invite. Oh, wait - you mean since you weren't explicitly forbidden from using the access point, that's an implicit invitation. [...] Your analogy is missing a car or two. IOW, it's not a particularly apt analogy.

It does raise a point, however. If someone is running an announced, open AP, then their AP is actively broadcasting invitations to join the network.

THAT is an explicit invitation. It's used to announce that an AP is available, and you find out right away that it's open.

If you don't want people to join your network, you should be locking it with encryption, or at least turning off the announce.

When I had an access point connected to anything but a printer, I had the wire from the AP (actually more of a bridge device) running into a dedicated port on my server system. That port was firewalled to all but VPN and DHCP traffic and had a transparent web proxy which informed people that they should fuck right off.

While a setup like that is outside the expertise of the average bozo, there are turnkey products that can provide the functionality, and it could easily be integrated into access points (you can do it already with your own WRT54G.) But simply turning off announce should be mandatory if you don't want people connecting to your AP.

Re:Crime to use open wifi? (1)

MoHaG (1002926) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773479)

Actually what I meant to say is that it now appear to be a crime to not inform them how to turn down the music because it saves you buying the CD...

Re:Crime to use open wifi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773487)

Only if by listening to their sound system, they became less able to do so...

Re:Crime to use open wifi? (2, Insightful)

pytheron (443963) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773507)

Just as accepting invitations to drive off with my car because I left it unlocked on my drive is a crime.. Just as when someone leaves chips on a card table and doesn't ask someone to keep an eye on them.. well that's an 'invitation' also..

  There is no 'invitation'. When you use someone elses bandwidth, you deprive them of a commodity that they have paid money for. So yes, it ought to be a crime.

Re:Crime to use open wifi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773649)

Most people, myself included, only use a fraction of their pipe anyway. If it doesn't slow me down, I wouldn't mind other people using my point. If it does slow me down, I'll throw them on an untrusted subnet.

I just hate these damn "you stole a commodity" analogies. The mafiaa uses it and now you are. If you use all your bandwidth, fine, but if you don't, would you even notice if someone else used it?

Re:Crime to use open wifi? (1)

hawthorne (220575) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773543)

So, entering my house, cooking yourself dinner and watching pay-per-view movies on my TV isn't a crime because I forgot to lock the door?

Re:Crime to use open wifi? (1)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773561)

I think your analogy is invalid.

First, listening to your neighbor's CDs is a passive act (inasmuch as you don't have to do anything to hear it), whereas piggybacking his WiFi is active, in the sense that you actively decided to get on his network.

Second, listening to your neighbor's CDs doesn't really harm the neighbor from an economic standpoint. The fact that your ears are hearing the music doesn't mean there is any less of it left for the neighbor, whereas that isn't true for the WiFi piece; if you're on his WiFi, you're using (and unless you have consent from him, stealing) his bandwidth.

Third, it is an untenable argument that someone not securing their WiFi is the same thing as inviting people to use it. That is like saying that if you leave your front door unlocked, you are inviting the neighborhood to come on in.

Re:Crime to use open wifi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773565)

So accepting people's invitation to use their Wifi (by not securing it) is a crime...

So you mean I cannot crawl into an open window and use someones couch and get some food and beverages from their refrigerators? What kind of world is this?

Ah, so if you leave your door open, that is an inv (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773711)

You are saying that if you leave your door open, that is an invite? If you don't have a fence around your garden, just anyone can use it? God forbid you leave your car unlocked for a sec while loading/unloading. People will be borrowing it in a sec! What about simply dropping your wallet by accident. Obviously you didn't want it anymore, so I can just take it?

Perhaps I am just old but I still think that you don't take what belongs to someone else. Don't give me the crap about not knowing the difference between a public access point someone created to share his/her connection with anyone passingby and a private wifi connection that just hasn't been locked up to the point it becomes unusuable. Surely you can tell the difference between a private house door and a shop door?

And no, this is NOT like listening to their music OR even like listening in on their wifi transmissions. IF you transmit data into my space you could argue that I therefore have permission to receive that data. It is sorta sensible, don't accuse me of eavesdropping if you are shouting out a conversation into my ear.

HOWEVER, wifi is two way communication. This person was NOT just receiving the data they "played too loudly" he was happily sending data back and interacting with the system.

This would be like the neighbour listening to YOUR music, using your system, from his own house, uninvited. Perhaps you find that okay, prove it, and post your address.

The entire problem is in the two-way nature of wifi communication. This turns it away from "your apple tree overhands my garden, so any apples over my part belong the me" type of law, into "I am planting apple trees in your garden AND taking the apples" type of law.

My hardwired net may be secure from this, but... (1)

Lambchops3 (1089151) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773379)

I sure get tired of not being able to move the darn laptop around! I may just end up doing it for the ease of use and depend on the latest of firewall and WEP (or whatever).

That's what you get... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773381)

...when you don't require a minimum of understanding before people can use technology. You get people who trample on public spectrum and demand that the state protects them from something that they could much more easily, efficiently and thoroughly prevent themselves. That frequency band is mine, too. If you don't want your computer talking to mine over public spectrum, don't fucking let it, you morons.

It's not mystery tech. anymore (2, Insightful)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773383)

The black-hats rely on the fact that no one can see what they are doing to succeed. In many cases, they are still capable of keeping their illegal activities underground. But a guy sitting next to a building with a laptop is kind of obvious. Kudos to the cops for challenging his existence there. I'll even put up with some nosy cops myself to see guys like the one they got go away. Now if only there were an electronic cop that would bring those cowardly, anonymous, SSH phishers and spammers to the surface...

First Wi-Fi Piggybacking post! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773385)

Now mod me down.

autoconnect (4, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773405)

What about when Windows auto-connects to an open AP? Sure you would probably never get arrested for it, but its still technically illegal isnt it?

Re:autoconnect (1)

wolfman_jake (974273) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773485)

Just like you should have the sense to set up security on your wireless network you should set windows to connect to preferred networks only.

Re:autoconnect (1)

justkarl (775856) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773491)

Windows doesen't just connect to everything automatically. It finds a few that are probably the ones you are looking for. And if you have networks nearby that you've connected to already, it will auto-connect.

Re:autoconnect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773575)

From last time I tried wifi under windows, it autoconnected to ones with the same name as ones you had connected to in the past. And with many networks using default names, result was that you tended to autoconnect an awful lot.
I remember this since it was annoying to have to always remember to forcibly disconnect when leaving someone's network to avoid it connecting elsewhere.

Re:autoconnect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773521)

Right, his laptop just happened to have auto-connected while he was sitting in his car and outside of a stranger's house who happens to have an AP. Completely understandable.

Re:autoconnect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773539)

would probably depend on whether or not you were sitting in your car in an out-of-the-way neighborhood, don'tcha think?

Re:autoconnect (1)

MoHaG (1002926) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773545)

What about when Windows auto-connects to an open AP? Sure you would probably never get arrested for it, but its still technically illegal isn't it?
Rather what if your laptop automatically downloads updates from the network? Or spyware run in the background and access illegal information?

Invitations (1, Informative)

$uperjay (263648) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773421)

If you leave your access point open, you are inviting people to use it. If you don't want people to use your access point, put a password on it.

Re:Invitations (0, Redundant)

Nos. (179609) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773481)

So if you forget to lock your car or house door, you are inviting people in as well?

Re:Invitations (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773577)

Yes, actually. Every single day, either myself or my flatmates (depending on who leaves last) locks the door.

Every.

Single.

Day.

Except for once. About three months ago, I accidently left the top lock unlocked...that day, we came home to a door that was busted in, 3 laptops were missing, two Xbox 360's, and a 42" plasma TV. Never noticed anyone suspicious in our neighborhood, only people that are ever in our place are our families/girlfriends.

So yes, I would say that leaving your house/car unlocked is the same as inviting someone in.

Re:Invitations (1)

$uperjay (263648) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773651)

If I leave my door wide open the neighbours are welcome to drop in and say hello. I do, in fact, leave my wireless access point open for people in my neighbourhood to use. I like the people in my neighbourhood.

Re:Invitations (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773671)

If you've got a little electronic box next to your door with a sign that says, "ask here for entry" and a recording that automatically tells people, "sure, come on in!" when they ask... then yes.

And that's pretty much exactly what an open AP does.

Re:Invitations (1)

MoHaG (1002926) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773629)

And if you don't want anyone to use it at least turn of SSID broadcast else you ARE intentionally advertising it.

If you do not know how wireless networks work you should not operate one or you should hire someone to set it up for you.

Re:Invitations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773771)

And if you leave your front door unlocked, are you inviting people to come in and steal your beer out of the fridge? Just because there isn't a lock on it doesn't mean you are giving permission to use it. It just means it's an easier target for a thief.

excuse to arrest him? (1)

valdean (819852) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773431)

I wouldn't be surprised if his being arrested had more to do with him sitting in a car outside someone's house than piggybacking on someone's wireless Internet connection. If he'd been in a bedroom next door, it wouldn't have resembled stalking, and I bet he wouldn't have been prosecuted.

Re:excuse to arrest him? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773585)

The guy was pretty clearly upto "something".
He covered his windows with cardboard and proceeded to browse.

Sure its trumped up, but police would rather waste time with this.
All they should have done is moved him along.
If the guy had been a truck driver resting in his cab (essentially the same) he wouldn't have been arrested for anything (unless they saw his laptop).

Computers link you to teh terrorists.

"linksys" or "default" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773445)

These are some of my favourite network names...

He asked to use the network (5, Insightful)

AciDLnx (541241) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773473)

His computer sent out a DHCP *REQUEST*. His computer said: "Can I have an IP address on this network? Can I have the information I need to get online from this access point?"

To which the access point replied: "Yes, you can have X.X.X.X. You can route your traffic through X.X.X.X."

He *asked* to use the network, and the network said *yes*.

Re:He asked to use the network (1, Insightful)

Darkon (206829) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773549)

His computer sent out a DHCP *REQUEST*. His computer said: "Can I have an IP address on this network? Can I have the information I need to get online from this access point?"

To which the access point replied: "Yes, you can have X.X.X.X. You can route your traffic through X.X.X.X."

He *asked* to use the network, and the network said *yes*.

He *tried* the door handle. The door opened. Does this mean he had an automatic right to go inside? Technically possible != legal.

Re:He asked to use the network (0, Redundant)

kt0157 (830611) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773705)

I tried to stand by your window to read my book using your light. The window let me. Does this mean I automatically get the right to use your light? Technically possible != illegal.

Re:He asked to use the network (5, Informative)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773817)

You really don't pay any attention to the details of the protocols do you?

He *tried* the door handle. The door opened. Does this mean he had an automatic right to go inside?

According to the RFC's governing DHCP, yes he does have an automatic right to use the service. Per the standards, it is the responsibility of the server owner to restrict access. The failure of the server owner to lock down the DHCP server no more changes the proper useage of the protocol than a store owner forgetting to lock the door & flip the sign at closing time. The DHCP client asks for & receives permission/configuration details. A customer walks into a business with an open door. Both are default allow scenarios, you don't knock on the door of a business, you try the door & walk in if it's open.

Re:He asked to use the network (1)

u19925 (613350) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773591)

Is the router authorized to let you connect? I don't think so. It can connect, but it has no authority. It is like a neighbor's electric plug point. It can supply electricity, but that doesn't mean you can use it without neighbor's permission (plug point's permission is not enough).

Re:He asked to use the network (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773685)

Cool. I have a computer program which solves those darned WEP riddles it keeps throwing at me. My computer reads the traffic from the router, determines the solution to the riddle and answers it correctly. After I answer the riddle, the router provides me with network information. I say it's a riddle because it doesn't take long for my computer to solve it. 'Cracking' takes much longer, I hear. I've done nothing but use the IEEE specification for radio frequency in that range. My computer has the appropriate FCC (or appropriate overseeing body) licenses to send and receive signals in that range, so I haven't done anything wrong. If the router didn't want me to talk to it, it shouldn't communicate with my legally licensed device. Or maybe the riddle should be more obviously a "KEEP OUT" sign.

Using your neighbour's Wi-Fi, by accident or otherwise, is not neighbourly behaviour. "I do it because I can" is a pathetic justification by control freaks who relish the idea of using their neighbour's stuff without their knowledge. It's one thing if you're just too poor to buy your own router and your neighbour's is ridiculously convenient. However, etiquette says you should still ask first. Most people who piggyback wi-fi do it with malicious intent, though, either to blame someone else for their online activities, or to monitor the network for private information. Cleverly hiding behind the "but the network gave me permission" excuse leads me to wonder what your motivation for using your neighbour's wi-fi is.

Re:He asked to use the network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773779)

And use of a wireless key presumes an equality of use that anyone may know the key for accounting purpose so long as transmittals are not interupted on its original use.

And use of encryption implies a conferance of that key with whomever is receptive to a transmittal of that encryption; revers algorithm is not breaking anything, it is mathematics--all for accounting purposes.

Anonymous Coward is a free account that all can use on Slashdot.

Open Networks Are Open (5, Insightful)

shawn443 (882648) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773489)

First of all, punish people who break into closed networks not open ones. I have accidentally connected to an open network a time or two. Sorry, I meant to connect to the Linksys network, not the Linksys network. Secondly, if DLink and the like would default to a more secure configuration out of the box instead of pandering to the wanabe power users, this problem would be largely eliminated. The computer industry seems to want to make computers so easy anyone can do it. They can't. Take your car to a mechanic, take your clothes to a tailor, take your securely configured router that you can't figure out to me.

Re:Open Networks Are Open (1)

Cristofori42 (1001206) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773635)

take your securely configured router that you can't figure out to me

Are you offering free tech support for every router vendor out there? How generous of you.

Re:Open Networks Are Open (2, Interesting)

u19925 (613350) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773709)

Read the article. It was no accidental connection. I am sure, he wouldn't have been arrested and convicted if there was any doubt at all that it was an accidental connection. There are some people who habitually steal network or break into other's system. Some do for fun, most do for some monetary gain and very few do by accident.

Nig6a (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773493)

bben sitting here di!stribution make

NintendoDS (2, Interesting)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773519)

How long till some kid with a NintendoDS get's arrested for playing Animal Crossing using an AP the software autodetected?

Re:NintendoDS (1)

Elentari (1037226) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773619)

The kid's actions would be accidental. This guy deliberately parked outside of a house with an open AP inside it, meaning he probably drove around looking for such a place to access, and would have intended to piggyback someone else's wifi. The two situations are not the same.

NintendoDS Arrests... (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773749)

How long till some kid with a NintendoDS get's arrested for playing Animal Crossing using an AP the software autodetected?

NintendoDS/WiFi MP3 player/Wii network abuse arrests in 5... 4... 3...

Sitting in a car with a laptop is a bad idea. Bring a friend. Sit outside. Be very obvious. Politely answer questions when posed, and remember that uninformed people will think the worst first.

Law enforcement (1)

Don Qigong (1089617) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773523)

"Gaining unauthorised access to someone else's network is an offence and people have to take responsibility for their actions. Some people might argue that taking a joy-ride in someone else's car is not an offence either," he said.
This clearly won't apply to government entities or, if it does, Alberto Gonzalez will assure us that everything is authorized and legal.

I know that the story is from the UK but I can't help but notice the similarities to the current state of affairs in the US. No matter which country this is in how can anyone pretend that these standards won't be selectively enforced as a matter of convenience? It's quite obvious that there's no way to detect authorized vs. unauthorized users of unsecured networks. Are we returning to the assertion that one should also be criminalized for not taking steps to secure their network? What about not taking adequate steps, as we know that weak security is little better than no security? What about failing to apply patches which interfere with the proper functioning of other, more business critical, considerations?

"There have been incidences where p43d0philes deliberately leave their wireless networks open so that, if caught, they can say that is wasn't them that used the network for illegal purposes," said NetSurity's Mr Cracknell.
Oh, there you go, that makes everything better. The situation is wishy-washy at best but we'll certainly sway public opinion by playing the p3d0phile card. If we get real lucky on the spin we'll be able to make it plausible that anyone who doesn't secure their network is necessarily a p3d0phile. While the evidence may not play out in court it'll be a convenient RIAA/MPAA strongarm tactic to keep political opposition in line. Someone think of the children!

Have a mobile data card handy . . . (1, Interesting)

div_2n (525075) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773603)

Have a mobile data card handy just in case. Problem solved. "Officer, I'm using my mobile data card. I pulled over since driving while surfing isn't a great idea."

Hmm. (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773605)

So, the Parabolic dish I use for the connection I use across the street is illegal?

I really don't understand how someone who is smart enough to figure out when someone is borrowing some broadband, just leaves their WiFi open? Granted, if you don't want to use WPA, WEP is better than nothing, right?

I just can't believe someone would go through all that trouble of getting someone arrested, and they were too lazy to do some simple security measures.

It's like sitting $100 bucks on the road in front of your house, expecting nobody to pick it up, then arresting the person who picked it up. It's not theirs, of course, but morals run thin when it's that easy to attain.

Summary misleading (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773641)

The second article says that the people providing the unsecured networks were "cautioned", but it doesn't say they were arrested. I don't think it's a crime to have an open network, though it might go against the TOS.

2005 story (4, Interesting)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#18773707)

Did anyone notice the date on that first story?

Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July 2005, 08:51 GMT 09:51 UK
That first story (with the £500 fine) was two years ago and concerned someone who hijacked a wireless connection.

The second story (the new one) concerned two people who were cautioned for using people's wi-fi broadband internet connections without permission.

Re:2005 story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18773781)

At last, someone else points out that this story is very old news./p

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