This guy seems to think it is OK to "poach" your neighbor's signal.
We're starting to see more and more articles in local newspapers with various slants on the fact that people are routinely poaching the spillover signals coming from unprotected Wi-Fi networks. Some researchers indicate that as many as two-thirds of Wi-Fi signals in the U.S. are not secured by WEP or any sort of encryption or tunneling.
Since it doesn't really take much to secure a network, you can assume that people do not mind you taking their Wi-Fi signals to do your e-mail. What people probably would not appreciate would be you loading up on p*rn or making terrorist threats on their dime with their IP address. What to do?
First of all, if you want to share your signal, you are probably not allowed to do so by your ISP agreement. But let's say you want to anyway. What is needed is a system to do it properly, such as a splash screen intercept and log-on of guest users, so you can at least have some record of who is using the connection. This would also allow you to do some monitoring of activity, in case the FBI comes knocking.
But let's face it, most people do not know that their signal is being poached, and probably don't care. So why should so many people be freaked out about it? With nearly 15 million Wi-Fi networks in the U.S. and perhaps 10 million of them unsecured, how many nefarious acts are being committed by poachers? Most people using these networks are doing it for an e-mail hit or a Web site visit and not much more. Often poachers simply use a neighbor's connection, and latching onto the signal is just a way to save money. I know at least two people doing this.
The problem I have with this activity is with the way it is described?as signal theft. I prefer to call it poaching. There is really nothing being stolen. The other user is paying a flat fee, and the worst that can happen is that his or her bandwidth takes a small hit for an inconsequential moment.
"It's like leaving the house unlocked," I'm told. "Just because there is no lock on the door doesn't mean you can walk in and take things." This is one of the dopey analogies you have to listen to. The analogy is bad. Walking into an unlocked home is not the same as hooking onto someone's Wi-Fi signal that is being broadcast all over the neighborhood. For one thing, no trespassing is being committed. The signal is being given to you. It's more like the unlocked house having a sign on the door saying "Welcome! Please enter!"? Continue reading...
Let's drop the house analogy and find something better and more accurate. Here is what Wi-Fi spillage is like. Someone has a house and a big lawn and a sprinkler system that is watering the lawn and spraying the water into the street. You drive into the water spraying into the street and use it to wash your car. Are you stealing the water? It's not your water. Someone else paid for it and you are using it. Just like the Wi-Fi signal.
One might argue that this isn't the same, since the bandwidth is reduced when you poach a Wi-Fi signal. Okay, then let's take the analogy and say that the water is not going into the street and down the sewer. The sprinkler is spraying only a little bit past the lawn, onto the sidewalk and the thin strip of lawn between the sidewalk and the curb. The sidewalk is public property, and when you walk on the sidewalk you get wet and keep that water from going to the grassy curb area. Is this stealing the guy's water?
Maybe readers can come up with better and more apt analogies than this, but this comes close. If you are being soaked by a hose, are you stealing water? You didn't ask to be soaked. You didn't go turn on the water yourself. You didn't run onto the lawn. How is the sprinkler situation different from someone blasting 802.11 signals all over town?
The person who owns the signal has to be the responsible party. Grabbing a nearby signal because it is being beamed into your house or car is hardly the same as going into an unlocked residence and stealing the silverware. And it's not hacking if the signal is not protected. In fact, if I'm getting unprotected signals on my property from people nearby, they're the ones who are trespassing! What if I do not want these signals interfering with what I want to do?
The way I see it, if someone is shoving a signal down my throat like that, I have every right to use it any way I want to as long, as I'm not doing anything illegal. It's crazy to think that my using that intrusive signal is illegal.
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