After reading through my various blogs this morning, I came across an interesting article on Alans blog regarding the theft of wireless broadband.

ITN - Wednesday, August 22 12:33 pm

A man who was spotted in the street using his laptop to access an unsecured wireless connection has been arrested.

The 39-year-old man was seen sitting on a wall outside a home in Chiswick, west London, by two community support officers.

When questioned he admitted using the owner's unsecured wireless internet connection without permission and was arrested on suspicion of stealing a wireless broadband connection.

The man was bailed to October pending further inquiries.

Dishonestly obtaining free internet access is an offence under the Communications Act 2003 and a potential breach of the Computer Misuse Act.

The move is the latest example of police cracking down on a crime that did not exist several years ago when wireless internet access was relatively rare.

In April, a man was cautioned by police after neighbours saw him using a laptop in a car parked outside a house in Redditch, Worcestershire.

In 2005, a man was fined £500 for piggybacking on someone else's wireless broadband connection in London.

Detective Constable Mark Roberts, of the Metropolitan Police computer crime unit, said anyone who illegally uses a broadband link faces arrest.

He said: "This arrest should act as a warning to anyone who thinks it is acceptable to illegally use other people's broadband connections.

"To do so potentially breaches the Computer Misuse Act and the Communications Act, so computer users need to be aware that this is unlawful and police will investigate any violation we become aware of."
Now, my wireless connection at home is very secure - 128 bit key and the code for my laptop is the only computer that can connect. A search on that network shows a half-dozen wireless networks, but of those six, only two are secure. That means anyone with a wireless computer can connect to the unsecured networks and use their bandwidth.

Sitting here, I just did a scan, and there are eleven wireless points. Only five are secure. And, as worrying as it is, this access point is not secure either. Why? Because Jo's dad thinks it's too much hard work setting up the security. Now, to be fair, the amount of shite he downloads on a regular basis, anyone trying to connect to his network would find dial up faster ;)

But, it does raise some interesting points. Should the onus be the owner of the point to keep it secure. For example, if I leave my doors and windows open, and someone steals my TV, then the insurance won't pay out. Yes, the person will still get charged with burglary, but if my house is insecure, does that make it my fault, or the fault of the thief?

Back in the day when I used to work for a certain Telecommunications Company, if a customer called and explained that someone else had used their phone and run up a bill, it didn't matter, because it is the owners responsibility to ensure that phone is used as they see fit. Now, would the same count for Wireless Connections? If I jumped on someone elses connection, and they happened to be on a fixed bandwidth, being charged for extra, would it be their fault or my own for running up their bill? And then, what if I used illegal downloaders to download movies or whatever. When the RIAA started charging people for downloading music, the person owning the connection was the one charged.

So, what are your thoughts on this? Yes, it's illegal to use someone elses connection without permission, but shouldn't these people owning the points secure their own networks? And on top of this - if I found another computer connected to my internet connection and called the police, would they send someone out and try to figure who it is, or tell me to piss off?

Newer Post Older Post

4 Responses to “Stealing”

Stuart Wilson said...

Ive used someone else's unsecured network while my internet was down - I'm sorry, but if they're using a technology in which they have no idea how to set up properly (wireless without encryption), then thats their problem! Its not rocket science to encrpt a wireless network.

If you don't know how to set it up - READ THE INSTRUCTIONS

Leaving your wireless network unsecure is like leaving your front door wide open when you go out.

Sorry.. im going off on one - this is what happens when technology falls into the hands of people who don't know how to use it.

The Special Zipper said...

Interesting question Dan. If someone drops a $100 note do you give it back to them or keep it because they are dopey. This is obvious for me given we came home with an extra bag from shopping last week with the bag containg a Star Wars lego kit someone had bought but left on the counter just before we came through. I rant KMart and told them I had it, a customer would likely come looking for it and that I would return it. The lady on the phone was very thankful .. made it worthwhile however when I returned it the staff was like they didn't give a rats ass. Anyway .. I would obviously call the person and give the $100 back .. and have done so with smaller denominations.

Now .. the wireless broadband. Everyone needs to accept some responsibility. I understand banks may soon not provide the same protection for internet banking if customers do not keep their security on their PCs up to date ie operating system security updates, browser updates, virus software etc.

So I say there is definitely a responsibility of the owner however I wouldn't walk into an open house and take the Plasma TV either ...

Anonymous said...

I was staying in my friend Beth's house last night, and when I turned on my laptop this morning, of the 20 or so wireless connections, I clicked into one and sure enough, it was encrypted. I shot off a quick email, and closed down the machine. I didn't feel guilty.

The guy that got arrested though, was "cruising" for hotspots. Off with his head, I say.

(Tongue firmly in cheek).

The onus is on the owner of the connection, IMO.

The Special Zipper said...

Jeeeeeeeeez ... and I'm supposed to be the convict!!!!