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Old 25-09-2007, 16:21   #16
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trying to bite my tongue, but...

Originally Posted by Pura Vida View Post
I have a strong negative opinion of people taking access via my networks.
Then I suggest you secure your networks. I set wireless networks up daily and I secure them to keep unauthorized users out. Here's reality in the area I service. People buy a router, bring it home and plug it in and forget about it despite the fact it comes with a CD that says "Run CD first". They don't want to be bothered or are too cheap to hire a professional to do the work. Most subdivisions I go into are a free for all of unsecured networks, each house having access to several open networks and most people have no idea whose network they are actually on and could care less. The police where I live have better things to do than fool with this mess.

If someone buys a wireless router and sets it up unsecured then they should not get excited when someone does. The law is not fully developed in this area yet and it is an over-simplification to compare open wireless home networks to the days of tone-generators, cable TV hijacking and cracking secured corporate networks. This is especially true since it takes zero human involvement for a modern wireless equipped notebook computer to find and connect to an unsecured wireless network. There are so many wide open networks I can't imagine why anyone would go to the bother of actually trying to hack into a pay site which likely is a criminal offence in most places and if it's not it should be.

I believe that when the law in this area is fully developed, open wireless networks are going to be fair game everywhere. There is a world-wide movement to create a massive global hotspot through this very means, it will happen and the law will reflect this reality. And we will all be the better for it.

So you guys would really be upset if a sailor passing through hopped on to your router for a bit to send some webmails, download some gribs, check some weather? Really?

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Old 25-09-2007, 17:40   #17
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Please don't bite your tongue. I'm happy to take a heads up look at any argument...

First I do secure my own networks which, while not directly stated, I hoped was clear from the previous post. Also setting up an AP with WEP is not much security from a mediocre script kiddie but is about as complex as most non-technical people can handle. With that said I can get between three and eight APs from my house and all are WEP encoded. One of the neighborhood kids spends a lot of time trying to crack them. So I think that the threat is real, even if only anoying.

It is a very good point that a lot of new computers will find and try to link to open APs, but that has no bearing on the issue. Personally I think it is bad design and will go the way of the dodo. In any case if someone took all of your power cord it would be a theft. The fact that you do not secure it each day has no bearing that someone took something that did not belong to them. And if they return it after a few days, and you never miss it, it is still a theft.

Personally I would like the idea of a WIFI world. It would be nice to have true net neutrality too. If you have an agreement with your ISP that allows you to open your WIFI to every one in the area, and you wish to do it, it is really unlikely that anyone will prosecute. Frankly if a business puts up the money to build the infrastructure they should have a right to charge for its use, even when the customers want to share it for free. But I doubt that any ISP will accept this, even the City of Houston had trouble with the business community when they started their WIFI plan.

Fiinally, If someone hacked my WIFI I would be about as concerned as if I returned to find a transient in my slip without permission. Not the end of the world, no need to get the gallows. A simple fine might suffice, just enough to make them actually want pay for the service they use. In the end this is not an issue of someone denying access, there are web cafes, cell modems, etc available for that. This is simply a matter of taking something that is not freely given...

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Old 26-09-2007, 06:33   #18
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You're right, WEP was junk from the beginning and is easily cracked. I haven't used it in years and any customer with old equipment I tell to upgrade or shut it down. WPA-PSK with a very strong password is virtually unbeatable. Password has to be at least 15 characters and contain upper and lower case, numbers and special characters. No one has successfully beaten this that I am aware of, no hacker will invest the time it would take for a brute force attack to succeed. Most of my customers hate passwords, they prefer abc123 or something equally difficult to crack (note tongue firmly in cheek), or better still they want nothing at all. The CDs that come with a good quality router install WPA security on both your computer and the router, all you have to give it is a strong password. Anyone who does not secure their equipment is actively ignoring what they are being told to do and that is evidence that they are inviting people to use their equipment. How could a court not conclude that?

I want to be clear here, I do not condone hacking into secure networks or pay sites, be they public, private or whatever. But I do see a very big distinction between secured networks and wide open ones. I think that if for no other reason than it can't be policed, wide open networks will soon be viewed as public domain. All that needs to happen is one well thought out legal challenge and the issue will largely be clarified. There is a responsibility for people to take some action to secure their networks as a sign they do not want anyone else using it and to prevent accidental usage of their network and I believe the ultimately the law will see it this way.

The issue of computers connecting on their own isn't going away, and in fact with Windoze Vista it has gotten worse. I regularly get customers calling me and telling me that their Vista computer is getting onto the neighbours unsecured network by itself even though it is set up to connect to their own secured network. I have seen this with my own Vista notebook, it hops onto whatever is easiest, not what I tell it to hop onto. My XP notebook never does this. This is not a sign that things are getting better. I am about to put Ubuntu on a wireless notebook to see how it fares in this.

I guess we differ on what freely given means. To me, if you leave your network wide open you are freely giving access to whoever comes along. My ISP has no stipulation in their service contract about locking down wireless routers or limiting the number of computers that can access my router. If I leave my router open and let people on it, that's not theft of anything by anyone.

Access is actually a big problem where I live and cruise, it's a rather rural area. There are few public facilities, mostly libraries nowhere near the water, internet cafes came went broke disappeared, and only a couple of marinas have WiFi of any kind up and running. But there's usually wide open networks around and just booting your computer on your boat will often find you connected by the time it's up and running.

The situation in Houston is happening all over the world, Toronto is doing (or has done) the same thing, turning the downtown core into a huge hotspot. Municipalities with their wholly owned infrastructure partners (think power utilities) are getting into providing WiFI which really P/O's business. Whether it's paid for by taxes or users, it's still not what a lot of people see as the real future of WiFi. Check out FON for one group that is advocating free public hotspots worldwide. There are literally dozens of fon hotspots in Toronto already.

Meantime, if I'm ever in Galveston, I'll make sure I stay off your network, and if you're ever in the wilds of eastern Ontario, feel free to hop on mine!
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Old 26-09-2007, 06:55   #19
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I know it's easy to get into a WEP encrypted router. It's also easy to pick most locks. I do borrow wifi from time to time. I never abuse it, I never fileshare, I usually make a quick check of my email, maybe get on IRC for a few minutes(very low bandwidth usage) and usually the reason I borrowed the wifi was to look up some specific piece of information, then I'm done, I disconnect. When I do this though, if someone's taken the time to lock their router, I don't bother it, however if there's a router that's unlocked, I will gladly borrow it for just a few minutes.

As far as range, this summer I was at a certain event with a certain club, one of them had a 2.4ghz parabolic antenna for other purposes, but Wifi uses the same band so they hooked it up to their wifi card and were getting signals over a mile away across the bay. I doubt it would work on a boat though, it was being a bit touchy to movement, even on land.

I know people do abuse open wifi, and they do try to break into secured networks, but not everyone is like that. Whether this changes your attitude or not, it doesn't matter, it's not going to change the way I go about doing things.
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Old 26-09-2007, 14:03   #20
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Thanks Jdope71 and Sluissa. I think this is a terrific thread. Your rationalization of using (Not hacking into) open networks is reasonable and sound advice. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your knowledge and candor.
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Old 23-10-2007, 17:58   #21
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Australian Question
CAT MAN DO what service provider would you recommend for the wireless broadband USB card. Telstra or Optus.
What about buying a phone with a internet service included.
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Old 24-10-2007, 13:09   #22
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Maritime Communications Internet

Maybe this is something like what you are looking for.

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