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Is it illegal to connect to an unsecured network?

Discussion in 'Networking & Security' started by John Phoenix, May 20, 2010.

  1. John Phoenix New Member

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    I brought my laptop over to my Mothers today when I went to cut her grass. She has a PC that's someone gave her but she hasn't used it yet cus it needs a new hard drive.

    I was surprised to find someone nearby had an unsecured connection. So I connected my laptop to it for a few minutes just to show Mom what kinds of things she could use the internet for.

    Is this illegal? If not, does it cause any harm to the users account?
     
  2. brandonwh64

    brandonwh64 Addicted to Bacon and StarCrunches!!!

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  3. theonedub

    theonedub habe fidem

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    Stealing is illegal, whether it be Wifi, cable TV, or someone's iPod.
     
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  4. John Phoenix New Member

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    I see. Thanks.. I just thought it was illegal if they had a password and you hacked it.. otherwise, I thought if they didn't have a password set on purpose.. it was like they were saying they don't care if you use their account.

    I have used free accounts from hospitals and places like that. There is even a network of people who will open their network to the public and in exchange they advertise their locations so users can find them to share their connection.. sadly there are none of this group in my area.
     
  5. cadaveca

    cadaveca My name is Dave

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    Yep, illegal, and your MAC ID will be stored in the wireless router, so there's no avoiding prosecution, should the WiFi owner's want to go after you.

    My iPod Touch does it automatically, without asking me. I can travel from home to the hospital(5KMs), without any real perceivable connection loss...

    If the owner of the connection posts signs saying you can access thier conenction, then it's perfectly legal(depndning on who the owner is), but to tap into someone's home is not, 99.99% of the time.
     
  6. theonedub

    theonedub habe fidem

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    I can see where you were going, but think of it this way: if someone left their car unlocked, keys in the ignition with the car running, isn't it still illegal to take the car?

    Its not like the police will come knocking on your door, and the person who own the service may not ever know whats going on, but still.
     
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  7. Black Haru

    Black Haru

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    A: never again source Wikipedia (even if its right go to the bottom of the page and source from one of the links)

    B: while piggybacking is technically illegal, if they have no password than they are legally responsible for any actions you take while on their account. (they are as liable as you)
     
  8. NdMk2o1o

    NdMk2o1o

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    He asked if it was illegal not immoral and it actually depends on the laws in your country as some have laws covering at some dont!
     
  9. John Phoenix New Member

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    Check this out.. new york Rocks.. ( from the Wikipedia page):

    "New York law is the most permissive.[1] The statute against unauthorized access only applies when the network "is equipped or programmed with any device or coding system, a function of which is to prevent the unauthorized use of said computer or computer system".[35][36][37][38]

    In other words, the use of a network would only be considered unauthorized and illegal if the network owner had enabled encryption or password protection and the user bypassed this protection, or when the owner has explicitly given notice that use of the network is prohibited, either orally or in writing.

    [1][39][40] Westchester County passed a law, taking effect in October 2006, that prohibits commercial networks from being operated without a firewall, SSID broadcasting disabled, and a non-default SSID, in an effort to fight identity theft. Businesses that do not secure their networks in this way face a $500 fine. The law has been criticized as being ineffectual against actual identity thieves and punishing businesses like coffee houses for normal business practices"
     
  10. IggSter

    IggSter

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    the legality of using any unsecured wireless network is very uncertain at the moment.

    In Germany it is now illegal to have an unsecured wifi network (yes that right - if i was to connect to an unsecure network and download movies/music etc....the owner of the wifi is responsible even if there is outright proof that he did not perform the download)


    Quote from BBC news:

    German citizens are responsible for the security of their own private wireless connections, a court has ruled.

    The ruling comes after a musician sued the owner of a network connection that had been used to illegally download and file-share music.

    The owner had proof that the householder was on holiday at the time but the court ruled that the network should have been password-protected.

    In the UK, the law currently states that it is not illegal to connect to an unsecured wireless LAN, however it is illegal to use someone elses bandwidth or services without their consent. (as a side note for anyone who runs an ftp service or allows inbound connections, ALWAYS put a login banner stating that access is only for authorised users, this is legally binding and can help during disputes) /Quote
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2010
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  11. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

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    The only time this is not illegal is if the owner of the WiFi network purposely left it open for anyone to use, AKA created a hotspot.

    However, in most cases in neighborhoods, the WiFi is left unsecure out of ignorance of how to secure it, and not so that anyone can access it.

    Personally, I'd try to find who the WiFi belongs to, let them know that they are leaving themselves open for anyone to steal their internet, then offer to secure it for them for free in exchange for letting you use it.

    I like the anology of a car with the gas cap left open. It is still illegal to steal the gas.
     
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  12. John Phoenix New Member

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    LOL That's Funny.. I could do this i'm sure but how would I go about finding this person? The signal was only one bar but stayed stable the whole time.. about 20 minutes.

    Also, even though my MAC address is stored in this persons machine, how could he access it and how does that in turn lead back to me?
     
  13. a_ump

    a_ump

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    no no they're all wrong. It's only illegal if they catch you ;). i connected to my neighbors net from my aunts for like 3 months all summer. They found out, secured with WEP, then you download a program to get around that and they're dumbfounded cause they think they're safe with the security, but join a diff Workgroup and they'll probly never find you. didn't find me :D. The majority of people are computer illiterate compared to us, let alone knowing about networking.
     
  14. theonedub

    theonedub habe fidem

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    If he/she is running an unsecured wifi network, I would be 99% sure they are incapable of using any of that information to find you :laugh: The MAC address is basically the ID to your wifi device, but they are easily manipulated. I would not worry.
     
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  15. Champ

    Champ

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    Shame on you!!!!, but I like the way you think
     
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  16. cadaveca

    cadaveca My name is Dave

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    MAC ID is stored in the Router's IP tables. Each network device is assigned an IP, based on the MAC ID.

    Even if they didn't know how to access it, the ISP is guarantteed to know how. Most routers keep this info too...if they do not know how to access that stuff, you can guarantee that info will eb there forever, even if the power is removed.

    It's then also possible to see what MAC conencted to what addresses, so they can figure out if you've accessed a potentially illegal site.

    In Canada, it's 100% illegal, unless explicity given permission.
     
  17. Champ

    Champ

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    That's very true. You blanked with the wrong network if they could
     
  18. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Linux Advocate

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    if you are unsure if it is illegal you can google your state and federal enforcement offices to find out.
     
  19. Champ

    Champ

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    best answer yet :toast:
     
  20. John Phoenix New Member

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    Thanks.. I like that answer.. o.k. I won't worry.

    You know it's sad that wifi isn't cheaper.. I already pay for a home connection.. seems it should come standard with free wifi that's available anywhere. Cheapest I found it was 60 bucks.

    There is a free wireless service I read about but it uses bluetooth.. I don't understand it.. I don't have any bluetooth devices.. but they say its free but it's limited type of access.

    http://www.myfreewirelessisp.com/

    If I understood it, and could use it, I would at least give it a try. Can someone look at this and explain it to me please so I will understand what it is they are offering?
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2010
  21. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Linux Advocate

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    uh, that site does not look legit at all. i would recommend staying away.
     
  22. IggSter

    IggSter

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    Edit: this was directed at a post that has since disappeared, referring to someone walking into a house with an open front door being illegal.....

    Not strictly true:

    1. There is no breaking - just entering.
    2. I would just say "Oops sorry, I thought this was the post office - my bad"

    The burden of malicious intent still rests with the prosecution (in the UK)

    As another side note - If i was to walk into a house through an open front door, and fall through a hole in the floor - I can sue the owner for damages under health and safety law.
     
  23. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Linux Advocate

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    laws are different around the globe obviously. which is why he should simply call up the authorites and ask them if he is that concerned. afterall, we at TPU are not lawyers (at least i dont think anyone here is.)
     
  24. ShiBDiB

    ShiBDiB

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    Yes in most places around the US it is illegal, but the chances of being caught if ur using it from a neighboring house and not being a creeper out in the street r pretty slim to none.

    And whoever was saying that "They haz ur MAC address FOREVAAAAAAAR" im not sure what kind of router you have but ur wrong.
     
  25. cadaveca

    cadaveca My name is Dave

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    If you say so...but let me ask you, have you worked for an ISP? If the router was provided by an ISP. I can guarantee thier firmware keeps track(unless you change settings), and even better, the provisioning tables within the ISP's records keep track...

    D-link modems, for one, keep IP/MAC logs until the internal memory is full, and then write over old entries(although this can be turned off). However, because most router's don't get many connections on the LAN side, they hardly ever re-write this bit of memory.

    The issue at hand is that the OP has no way of knowing what type of router, or even where the rotuer is located, so it must be considered more than possible...In fact, I can pull out any of my older gateways form teh past 10 years(I have 6 now), and each and every one of them has full listings, and my current MediaShow gateway has no way to remove these listings either.


    FYI, I'm always also one of the first to get new services from my provider. That bandwidth you see in my sig is only that low due to having 6 PVR's on my connection, and they are "always on" type STB's(they are always on the ensure TV works the moment you "turn on" the box). I challenge you to find another Telus ADSL customer anywhere in Canada with the same speeds...because it's only available in my immediate neighbourhood.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2010

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