Illinois man arrested for using neighbor's wi-fi without permission


I suppose we should all hope this doens't catch on... I'm still not sure I understand how it's illegal. I mean, it takes 30 seconds to enable even low-end WEP encryption on most wireless routers. If you don't want other folks on your system, then enable WEP or WPA (or WPA2). The instructions are always in the manual or online, and it isn't rocket science. There are folks who intentionally leave their systems unlocked so as to give the public access to the internet, so this would mean that there is no way to differentiate those folks from folks who don't read through the manual enough to learn how to enable security.

Of course, I fully support punishing folks who break into system by breaking the WEP key or whatnot. I figure, if someone enables any security, they don't want others in. I don't have a problem with that. For 100% open systems, however, there is no indication that the owner/operator wants to restrict access, so I feel no remorse for using their systems. Now, if you ACCESS files on another computer on that network (such as accessing the shared folders on other computers), that's a different case, and I would never do that.
 
While I agree that it is a bad idea to use any private WIFI without permission, I wonder if there is more to this story. I wonder if this is more than just the guy checking his email. If he was just checking his email or looking at cnn.com, then that story is indeed very troubling.

Windows XP will automatically connect to an open network if it finds one. More than one occasion my laptop has found and connected to a network automatically and started downloading Windows updates or McAfee antivirus updates. This has happened sitting at red lights or stopped at a McDonald's in a city somewhere. Under that law, you could be prosecuted for that too. Or Microsoft could be sued for making XP a party to the 'infraction'. There is usually no way to tell where the network is coming from. For example, here in Charleston, the local Steak Escape restaurant offers free WIFI, but their SSID is 'linksys'.

Sounds like a law that should be challenged or at least clarified. Especially if the guy just stopped to check his email after the XP dialog box went 'ding' saying there was a connection available.

I will say this, that at least on the Linksys router I have here at my house, enabling encryption is NOT easy. I'm no computer newbie either. I could not get the client computers to recognize the key I assigned and after several more tries and different keys, I finally just gave up and opened the router again so I could use it. I wouldn't assume that most everyone who has an open router is doing it intentionally.

That said, getting permission to use a connection legitimately is usually easy. That and the fact that there are an increasing number of low-cost and free hotspots out there make it uneccessary to drive around residential areas looking for wifi.
 
Waaal. Reading between the lines... http://www.govtech.net/magazine/story.php?id=98760

Do you think perhaps the Winnebago County officials are more concerned about protecting their franchise fees than in protecting public access to public resources?

It's pretty easy to change the default SSID and turn-off its broadcast. That at least represents a minimal assertion of property rights.
 
Windows XP will automatically connect to an open network if it finds one. More than one occasion my laptop has found and connected to a network automatically and started downloading Windows updates or McAfee antivirus updates. This has happened sitting at red lights or stopped at a McDonald's in a city somewhere. [/b]

Are you sure that is true? Does it always do this with any available connection?
 
Associate....but will it automatically connect?
[/b]

Yep - it's happened sitting at red lights on a chase or parked at restaurants or gas stations. I'll look over and Windows Update or McAfee Antivirus is over there downloading automatic updates over the connection. With no input from me.
 
Associate....but will it automatically connect?
[/b]

Actually perhaps it would be cool if the government provided subsidies (similar to highway funds) to help individual households obtain and broadcast wifi for free so that it would expand the coverage of connectivity for everyone. Kind of a pubic domain where we just all access and share the same bandwidth with each other and that being the rule. Security of course would have to be watched, but it is also currently that way on the internet (non wifi).

Ok, wasn't going to say this, but you folks made me :) . You have to manually connect to each connection XP finds at least one time. After that it adds it to your preferred network list and is set to connect 'automatically'. That way if you go more than one place and different places use 'default' for the name of the network then next time it will automatically connect you. You can clear your preferred list and it won't do that. Also note there is an option under Advanced that if you select it will automatically connect to non-preferred networks, but with XP SP2 that is not the default.

The option to auto connect to non-preferred nets might be a good one for chasers as it will allow them to pick up connects all along their route without having to think about it.
 
Errr Bill, I have had mine randomly connect to whatever it could find too. It does do that. Just sitting somewhere long enough.
[/b]

You might want to see if that 'automatically connect to non-preferred networks' is enabled on yours. Whenever I travel around I can view available networks, but to actually connect to them the first time I have to click the connect button and it asks me if I am sure I want to connect to a (can't remember) non-preferred or unsecured connection - something like that. Of course after that if I stumble upon a network with a similar name it will then automatically connect. At least that's how it is with me. Anyone else notice this behavior?

For a test (next time any of you have the opportunity) clear out your preferred network list (no entries), and make sure the 'auto connect to non-preferred nets' isn't enabled and then drive around and see if it still auto connects. I don't think it will. At least mine never has as far as I can tell.
 
Actually perhaps it would be cool if the government provided subsidies (similar to highway funds) to help individual households obtain and broadcast wifi for free so that it would expand the coverage of connectivity for everyone. Kind of a pubic domain where we just all access and share the same bandwidth with each other and that being the rule. Security of course would have to be watched, but it is also currently that way on the internet (non wifi).[/b]


It often isn't a problem with individual households sharing wifi....it's the cable and phone companies that have spent billions creating highspeed networks. They don't want their customers giving out their service for free. This is the main reason why large cities have such a hard time giving out free wifi.
 
Back
Top