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Why I run an open Wi-Fi network

Discussion in 'News' started by tripwire45, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster


    Why I run an open Wi-Fi network

    Security expert Bruce Schneier wrote a column yesterday titled Steal This Wi-Fi explaining why he runs an open wireless network at home:

    To me, it’s basic politeness. Providing internet access to guests is kind of like providing heat and electricity, or a hot cup of tea. But to some observers, it’s both wrong and dangerous.

    I’m told that uninvited strangers may sit in their cars in front of my house, and use my network to send spam, eavesdrop on my passwords, and upload and download everything from pirated movies to child pornography. As a result, I risk all sorts of bad things happening to me, from seeing my IP address blacklisted to having the police crash through my door.

    Schneier concedes that, technically, these sort of calamities are possible, but he discounts the likelihood. I, too, run an open wireless network, but my reasons for sharing the bandwidth are a little different.

    Find the complete article at blogs.zdnet.com.
    Certifications: A+ and Network+


    1. GiddyG

      Not sure what the law is in the US; however, I believe that here in the UK the person leaving their Wireless connection open can be prosecuted. In addition, the person using that open connection can, if caught, also be prosecuted. One assumes that the former is because they are allowing someone to use something against the Terms and Conditions of the contract and the latter for effectively stealing bandwidth from the ISP.

      That said, I see no reason why anyone shouldn't, if they so desire, leave their connection open. The ISP should surely only concern themselves with making sure the connection doesn;t go above the limit for data transfer. Let's face it, even unlimited data transfer doesn't mean that. There is always some sort of cap or at least an acceptable use policy.

    2. hbroomhall
      Interestingly - BT announced a few months back a scheme for leaving *part* of the bandwidth open for others to use. The idea was to allow members of the scheme better access when traveling.

    3. tripwire45
      I agree that a company could probably pull a person's service if they are found out to be deliberately allowing friends and neighbors to "borrow" bandwidth, but too many people do this out of ignorance to justify criminal prosecution. From a "Berkeley-John Lennon-share-the-wealth" point of view, I can see the author's point...especially if the author feels that the ISP is treating him unfairly, on the other hand, it is fraud, since the author is paying to access for just his household and not for friends and neighbors.
    4. GiddyG
      I do remember seeing something like that in the IT press Harry... along the lines that people using BT could access the Internet using other BT Broadband connections or similar.

      Not sure how they would control it though... how on earth do you give public access to your modem/router when you have got your own key set up. Plus, if you have to use the same key, then surely non-BT users could potntially hack in and get access for free. Then again, I am not (yet) an IT whizz... :rolleyes:

      All in all, it sounded like BT were trying to put in place an ad hoc WiMax-type set up... an 'HSDPA killer'...
    5. krashed
      my wifi is open partially out of ignorance of risks but hey the sky hasn't fallen in and i too have benifitted from others open wifi's when my isp has been down so hey it's only fair. My ISP has a fair usage policy so i'm sure i'd at a nasty email if something was wrong. As for the legal implications isn't it the computer that commits the crime- i would be able to prove it wasn't mine as my computers have static address's-well that's what i'd like to think i could be wrong
    6. wizard
      I was under the impression the only crime is a passerby using the open wireless network, remember that news article about the man sitting on a wall with his laptop and was arrested?
    7. sunn
      In North America there is no law preventing other to use your ISP connection. If I wanted to allow everyone in my neighborhood to use it – they could. Problem is if anything illegal takes place, they’ll come after me first, as it was my name on the service.

      The other obvious is it’s my problem if I exceed the cap because my ‘friends’ were using it to download movies. The ISP does have the option of cutting me off. There are other security implications too, but it’s not that the law prevents you from sharing it.

    8. BosonMichael
      Well... there's no law against sharing bandwidth... but it could be a violation of your ISP's Terms of Service. If you're sharing bandwidth, and your ISP explicitly denies that in the ToS, then they can cut you off (as you stated)... even if you're not exceeding the bandwidth cap.

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