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RBA
07-06-2005, 08:36 PM
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Man Charged With Stealing Wi-Fi Signal

17 minutes ago



Police have arrested a man for using someone else's wireless Internet network in one of the first criminal cases involving this fairly common practice.

Benjamin Smith III, 41, faces a pretrial hearing this month following his April arrest on charges of unauthorized access to a computer network, a third-degree felony.

Police say Smith admitted using the Wi-Fi signal from the home of Richard Dinon, who had noticed Smith sitting in an SUV outside Dinon's house using a laptop computer.

The practice is so new that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement doesn't even keep statistics, according to the St. Petersburg Times, which reported Smith's arrest this week.

Innocuous use of other people's unsecured Wi-Fi networks is common, though experts say that plenty of illegal use also goes undetected: such as people sneaking on others' networks to traffic in child pornography, steal credit card information and send death threats.

Security experts say people can prevent such access by turning on encryption or requiring passwords, but few bother or are unsure how to do so.

Wi-Fi, short for Wireless Fidelity, has enjoyed prolific growth since 2000. Millions of households have set up wireless home networks that give people like Dinon the ability to use the Web from their backyards but also reach the house next door or down the street.

It's not clear why Smith was using Dinon's network. Prosecutors declined to comment, and a working phone number could not be located for Smith.

cincinnati chili
07-06-2005, 10:00 PM
a third-degree felony.

We really need to evaluate our priorities in this country if that's punishable by up to a year in prison, but beating the snot out of someone on the street isn't necessarily.

SteelSD
07-06-2005, 10:08 PM
Good lord.

I have a wireless network at home and it's freakin' encrypted. If I didn't do that I might as well just be tossing dollar bills into the wind every day and then call the cops when someone notices my stupidity and picks up a dollar from the curb in front of my house.

The max penalty for something like this should be a $50 fine and an allowance that lets the home owner pursue a restraining order against the person grabbing the signal.

Then the person broadcasting the unsecured signal should pay a $50 fine for broadcasting it in the first place without consideration for the fact that if they're next door and I'm not paying attention to which network signal I'm grabbing, I might just come back from a business trip and unknowingly grab their signal from my living room.

Up to a year in jail for something like this is just plain stupid because it really should be the network owner's responsibility to restrict access to his own dang network.

Gah.

ghettochild
07-06-2005, 10:10 PM
i have friends who charge 250+ to set up encryptions that don't take more than 30 seconds to do.

Unassisted
07-06-2005, 10:14 PM
It is conceivable that stolen wi-fi could be used for things that jeopardize homeland security, so I'm only surprised that wi-fi theft hasn't already been rolled into some bundle of Homeland Security laws.

TeamCasey
07-07-2005, 06:13 AM
Our neighbor can see our network. I'm not really sure what to do about it.

Danny Serafini
07-07-2005, 09:06 AM
Up to a year in jail for something like this is just plain stupid because it really should be the network owner's responsibility to restrict access to his own dang network.

That's like saying someone whose home has been burglarized is responsible because they didn't have their door locked. Just because something is available doesn't mean you should take it.

Roy Tucker
07-07-2005, 09:17 AM
Our neighbor can see our network. I'm not really sure what to do about it.
Don't broadcast the SSID. It's usually a checkbox on your router set-up. And set up authentication and encryption, it's not hard to do at all.

I took a train once from Boston to NYC and had my laptop on with airsnort running. I came across hundreds of unsecured access points.

And I've sat at my daughters soccer practice behind a neighborhood doing work on my laptop and had my choice of wireless access points to jump onto (if I so chose).

SteelSD
07-07-2005, 10:34 AM
That's like saying someone whose home has been burglarized is responsible because they didn't have their door locked. Just because something is available doesn't mean you should take it.

No, it's like putting a sign in your front yard telling folks that if they're not on your property, you'll be happy to bring them what they want. I'm a firm believer that if we don't want something taken from us, then it's our responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent it from happening.

If you don't have a network key setup for your broadband router, you are broadcasting a signal. Well, you're technically broadcasting a signal regardless but if you use encryption, you're not broadcasting a usable signal. Might as well be an amateur Ham radio operator being grumpy about folks listening. Oh sure, you might not mean for someone to use the Wi-Fi signal you're broadcasting outside your property line, but if you don't set up encryption protocol you might as well be asking them to.

Like Roy said, it's very easy to set it up. I didn't know how to do it when I set up my broadband router so I picked up the phone and called the company that produced the router and it took me about 20 seconds to set it up.

Roy Tucker
07-07-2005, 10:42 AM
Having said all this, I do think there should be a law about these kinds of things. Just because I carelessly and stupidly left my $1000 mountain bike on my driveway all night and it got stolen doesn't make the stealing OK.

3rd degree felony seems a bit stiff though. Something down in the misdemeanor range with a fine seems appropriate. More as a threat than anything else.

Another case of technology outpacing society.

SteelSD
07-07-2005, 11:00 AM
Having said all this, I do think there should be a law about these kinds of things. Just because I carelessly and stupidly left my $1000 mountain bike on my driveway all night and it got stolen doesn't make the stealing OK.

3rd degree felony seems a bit stiff though. Something down in the misdemeanor range with a fine seems appropriate. More as a threat than anything else.

Another case of technology outpacing society.

I'm fine with that. I don't have a problem slapping someone on the wrist for taking something that doesn't belong to them. The primary issue I have with it being a felony is that the signal is freely given and the person using it doesn't have to step foot one on your property to acquire it.

REDREAD
07-07-2005, 04:40 PM
I really think that the default for these products should be to have the security turned on. Would it really kill the manufacturers to put a one page instruction sheet explaining the whole process, and why it is turned on by default.

Most people probably set up the thing and are so relieved that it works, that they aren't even aware that it's a security risk.

CrackerJack
07-07-2005, 04:56 PM
Don't most wireless routers have a built-in firewall that's activated automatically?

I know my LinkSys router does - I can see my neighbor's wireless network when I scan, but of course that doesn't mean I can connect to it.

oneupper
07-07-2005, 05:08 PM
There are a several different options for securing your network.

They go from encryption (a password) to "not broadcasting your SSID" and MAC address filtering.

I prefer the latter. Most routers have it, its quite simple. Every computer has a MAC address. Put "your" computers in the list and only allow those computers access. If a friend comes with his laptop...add him. The router will allow him to connect from then on.

Not broadcasting your SSID is probably the easiest, however. It doesn't prevent anyone from connecting, but they would have to know that a network is in the vicinity (and its name). Using an SSID that isn't "linksys" or "belkin54g" helps in that respect also.

TeamCasey
07-07-2005, 05:32 PM
Most people probably set up the thing and are so relieved that it works.....

:wave: