Logged into my laptop in bed last night and noticed that I'd connected to someone else's connection, rather than my own.
Curiosity got the better of me and I had a bit of a peruse and quickly found as well as being unsecured, his router was also password-less and as well as my accidental connection there was FOUR other PC's/laptops connected!! I can't believe that if the owner had that much kit, he'd also know nothing about security.
Is there any way I can get a message to him, even offering to help him set it up?
They do but many people expect computer stuff to be magic so they don't bother reading anything or even asking questions. People want cheap stuff so manufacturers can't afford to ship secure equipment because of the support costs when people call screaming "I paid $39 for this and it doesn't work..."
Sure. First, it would best to identify his ISP. Dive into the status page and get his WAN IP address. Then type his IP address into any of the online DNS lookup tools that does reverse DNS. For example:
That will identify the ISP. Send them email with information, and possibly add in the WLAN MAC address so they can verify the identification. Ask them to contact their customer with instructions on how to clean up the customers security. The smaller ISP's will usually respond correctly to such a request. The big one's (Earthlink, at&t, Comcast, Roadrunner, etc) don't have a clue what to do next. None of the ISP's will give you contact information.
The problem with this approach is that many customers want to have wide open systems. Usually, the SSID will be something clever, like "free wireless" but quite often, they don't even do that. My attempts at being a good Samaritan have resulted in far too many debates, that I don't bother any more.
Windoze messenger is sometimes enabled. Try: Start -> run -> cmd net send * "Fix your wireless security or I'm taking over" This usually doesn't work as messenger is off by default, but you might get lucky.
If you prefer the personal approach, obtain a directional antenna (14-24dBi dish or panel), and do some direction finding. It's tricky, but not impossible. Even without a directional antenna, you can just walk around with a laptop looking for the strongest signal. Then, bang on the door, give the owner your story, and be prepared to run for your life.
At your end, how did this happen without your being aware of it? Does your laptop just connect to anything it finds?
Maybe the router owner isn't the only one with a problem. I may be completely wrong about this, but it seems to me that if all of these computers still have the Windows default workgroup name ("WORKGROUP"), then you not only have internet access through the router, but also have become part of the same LAN, and have become infectable by each other's malware, and have access to each other's shares.
Maybe he's the one that knows what he's doing, and the rest of you are being baited. :-)
Well, anyway, my laptop will connect automatically only to my router, with encryption. If my router isn't on, I have to specifically pick a network to join. Seems like that's the way it should be. I don't think it's safe if the laptop automatically connects to anything in the neighborhood.
That's what I thought, and I've certainly not connected in the past to it. I can only think that my wife must have used the laptop for her Ebaying, been in a deadzone for my connection, and has clicked OK when presented with the "unsecured network" warning without even reading it!!
I don't use any default workgroup names and I'm well firewalled, so I should be OK but I see where you're coming from.
Maybe! Anyway, I'm thinking I might just forget about it - it they haven't got the brains to set it up properly (and it's not rocket science!) why am I on here debating and worrying about it!!