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When is using an open wifi network a crime?

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El33tsamurai

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:44 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

I feel someone is trying to defend there actions ;).
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Eleven

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:56 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

eth3real wrote:Eleven, why are you trying to defend this so much?

We've already covered the basics, having an open access point DOES NOT imply authorization, and the law EXPLICITLY says "unauthorized access" is a violation. What more is there to discuss?

If you want to change the laws, send a letter to your congressmen. You asked why it was illegal, and we answered. The rest is an ethics question, and you already know where we stand. We can talk this in circles all you want, but now you know the law, it doesn't matter if you feel like it should be okay or not.


I'm defending my position as much as you guys are.  I understand the law that you have described.  I'm just saying the logic seems to be inconsistent.   You can make a single click of the mouse, have no malicious intentions, bypass no security at all, access a resource that was either intentionally or unknowingly configured to be open, a resource you do not own or pay for, a resource that has no indications it was intended to be private, and when talking about a wifi it's illegal, but websites it is legal.  Does not compute.

And no, as I said, I never connected to an open AP, My wifi card is on the way though, but now I'm just going to use for my own network; which is the main reason I bought it.  This isn't even about me, I haven't broken this law, but there are a TON of people who have.  I don't see them as criminals.
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eth3real

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:01 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

Now that you know the law, you can assume that every open wifi network is unauthorized until you see a sign saying it's okay, or ask permission.

The moral of the story is that we didn't write the laws, the laws don't always make sense, but it is still unethical to break the laws regardless of your viewpoint. Just because you think it should be okay doesn't make it okay.

You say you're defending your position as much as we are, but we're not defending our position; we're telling you what the law says. In the end, none of use can change the laws, we're just telling you the facts.
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Eleven

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:11 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

eth3real wrote:Now that you know the law, you can assume that every open wifi network is unauthorized until you see a sign saying it's okay, or ask permission.

The moral of the story is that we didn't write the laws, the laws don't always make sense, but it is still unethical to break the laws regardless of your viewpoint. Just because you think it should be okay doesn't make it okay.

You say you're defending your position as much as we are, but we're not defending our position; we're telling you what the law says. In the end, none of use can change the laws, we're just telling you the facts.


Well it seemed to me like you guys agreed with the logic of the law and were defending it.  If you guys agree the law's application of explicit authorization is inconsistent, but you should still follow it, you're probably right.  But really the laws should be consistent.  When the average person has violated this one law and is a criminal, that's a problem.
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eth3real

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:43 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

I agree that unknowing end-users of wireless routers should be protected from just not knowing any better. I don't believe that this law is efficient in protecting those people, as most people don't know the law exists, nor would the owners of the network even realize that such an event took place.

I think these people should have protected networks, because I don't think it's right that they're just open to anybody use their networks like we're discussing. I definitely don't agree with people legitimizing it "because it was open." I don't believe that the owners of open wireless networks are at fault for this. It is simply easier (in most cases) to leave it alone once it's working, as most people who are not technical would be afraid of messing it up if they change anything. That's not their fault; it should be easier to make it secure than easier to leave it open.

Hardware manufacturer's are not required to make the interface easy for people to use, or make the interface enforce any kind of security standards. Maybe that's what needs to change, but I believe the current laws are fine where they are.

You keep saying that the laws are inconsistent, but comparing it to a website is not a fair comparison. Wifi has a finite range, and it is easier to make it open than secure. If you made an open website on the internet, you had to go through the trouble of making it open on the internet, which can be accessed by the entire world. Not a fair comparison by a longshot.

This is one of those laws that has good intentions, but very little effect in practice. Now that you know you're "not allowed" to connect to open access points, doesn't mean that there is anyone enforcing that law. If you go 5 mph over the speed limit, you are still breaking the law. Is anyone going to give you a citation for it? Probably not. Did you still knowingly break that law? Yes.

My entire point of this, is that we need some kind of protection against attacks like this. If someone accesses my network that I did not authorize, I want to file charges. These wireless APs don't come with a big disclaimer on the box saying "this may open your network to unauthorized access, potentially sharing your internet connection and network services to others in range." Do you really think the end users are at fault for this?
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Eleven

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 2:56 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

eth3real wrote:I agree that unknowing end-users of wireless routers should be protected from just not knowing any better. I don't believe that this law is efficient in protecting those people, as most people don't know the law exists, nor would the owners of the network even realize that such an event took place.

I think these people should have protected networks, because I don't think it's right that they're just open to anybody use their networks like we're discussing. I definitely don't agree with people legitimizing it "because it was open." I don't believe that the owners of open wireless networks are at fault for this. It is simply easier (in most cases) to leave it alone once it's working, as most people who are not technical would be afraid of messing it up if they change anything. That's not their fault; it should be easier to make it secure than easier to leave it open.

Hardware manufacturer's are not required to make the interface easy for people to use, or make the interface enforce any kind of security standards. Maybe that's what needs to change, but I believe the current laws are fine where they are.

You keep saying that the laws are inconsistent, but comparing it to a website is not a fair comparison. Wifi has a finite range, and it is easier to make it open than secure. If you made an open website on the internet, you had to go through the trouble of making it open on the internet, which can be accessed by the entire world. Not a fair comparison by a longshot.

This is one of those laws that has good intentions, but very little effect in practice. Now that you know you're "not allowed" to connect to open access points, doesn't mean that there is anyone enforcing that law. If you go 5 mph over the speed limit, you are still breaking the law. Is anyone going to give you a citation for it? Probably not. Did you still knowingly break that law? Yes.



It is their fault for not knowing any better.  This isn't someone tech savvy tricking a user like with hacking; the users are notified their network is open.  I don't know anything about cars, but if I choose to ignore an engine light, like someone does when configuring their AP or connecting to it, and say "well my car is working so I'm not worried about it" that's my fault when something goes wrong. They configured the AP, they see the notification it's not secure, it should be assumed it was intended to be public like other open APs, and websites.

As for a website being an unfair comparison, it isn't.  The wifi range has nothing to do with it. Also, websites, just like APs, and anything else, are easier to keep open than restricted.  As I've said, you could create a website you want public and have a page you don't want public.  Regardless of the reason, if you do nothing to limit access to the page, it's you own fault.  People aren't criminals for clicking the link.

I don't want anyone connecting to my AP either.  That's why I took measures to restrict access.  Something anyone can do.  If they can't, there is the manual, google, message boards, free tech support, they could have a friend do it, or pay someone to do it.  Lots of options and no excuses for no security.

My entire point of this, is that we need some kind of protection against attacks like this. If someone accesses my network that I did not authorize, I want to file charges. These wireless APs don't come with a big disclaimer on the box saying "this may open your network to unauthorized access, potentially sharing your internet connection and network services to others in range." Do you really think the end users are at fault for this?


I definitely want anyone who attacks a computer to go to jail, but at the same time I don't consider grandmas across the country making one click as blackhats who need to be jailed for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act...
Last edited by Eleven on Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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eth3real

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:51 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

How about this:

You didn't know that it was illegal to access an unauthorized network.

The people running open wireless networks don't know that wireless security is something to consider.

By your logic, you would be at fault for not knowing the law. You could have read up on the local laws and known better because that information is open to the public. You could have found it online, gone to a local library, etc..

If people don't know it's a problem, how are they going to fix it? Are you going to be the one to inform the public that their access points need to be secure? Are really saying that leaving your access point unprotected that you're giving people an invitation to access it?

Let me ask you this, if you disagree with the law, what would you do to change it?
If you think everyone should know better with their access points, how would you go about educating them?

People obviously aren't reading the instruction manuals that come with their products, and people obviously aren't reading the laws for their area. What can you do about it?
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eth3real

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:54 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

You keep complaining about it like you're offended, but you're not offering any solutions? Try to help us out here. You have such a strong opinion about it, yet you're making no effort to improve the situation.
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El33tsamurai

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:57 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

This is still going?
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eth3real

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:15 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

Eleven, just for clarification:

Yes, the law implies that connecting to someone else's open wireless network is a violation. But, the reality is, who could ever enforce this law? With so many open wireless networks, and so many laptops, smartphones, etc. utilizing wireless networks, how could anyone police this? "Grandmas across the country" are not going to jail for this. Seriously.

You came here to ask:
When is using an open wifi network a crime?

The answer, written in law, is:
Whenever you don't have permission.

End of story.
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El33tsamurai

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:20 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

Claps hands for eth3real
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Eleven

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:24 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

eth3real wrote:How about this:

You didn't know that it was illegal to access an unauthorized network.

The people running open wireless networks don't know that wireless security is something to consider.

By your logic, you would be at fault for not knowing the law. You could have read up on the local laws and known better because that information is open to the public. You could have found it online, gone to a local library, etc..

If people don't know it's a problem, how are they going to fix it? Are you going to be the one to inform the public that their access points need to be secure? Are really saying that leaving your access point unprotected that you're giving people an invitation to access it?

Let me ask you this, if you disagree with the law, what would you do to change it?
If you think everyone should know better with their access points, how would you go about educating them?

People obviously aren't reading the instruction manuals that come with their products, and people obviously aren't reading the laws for their area. What can you do about it?



It's not okay to be ignorant of the law, but it is okay to be ignorant and negligent when it comes to security?  Not many people get legal notice that accessing an open wifi network is illegal without explicit authorization, yet the people who have open wifi ARE notified it's open and not secure.  I understand it is illegal, I'm saying the law is also illogical.  

The computer illiterate owners of open APs are not just "victims."  Their negligence should also make them liable for crime when their wifi service is abused.  There is a big difference between due care and diligence and absolutely no security.  The latter is definitely negligent.

Criminalizing the clients for using an open AP without malice, but not the AP owners for being negligent, doesn't make much sense.  If one is a crime, the other probably should be too.  Which is worse?  Using an open AP to surf the web, or having your open AP be used to anonymously manage a 100,000 node botnet?  I'm sure if the police were aware of both situations, the guy who surfed the web would go to jail, yet the grandpa who configured the open AP being used to manage Zeus would get off scott free.
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Eleven

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:29 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

eth3real wrote:Eleven, just for clarification:

Yes, the law implies that connecting to someone else's open wireless network is a violation. But, the reality is, who could ever enforce this law? With so many open wireless networks, and so many laptops, smartphones, etc. utilizing wireless networks, how could anyone police this? "Grandmas across the country" are not going to jail for this. Seriously.

You came here to ask:
When is using an open wifi network a crime?

The answer, written in law, is:
Whenever you don't have permission.

End of story.



I guess you're right, my question was answered... thanks! :)
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eth3real

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:31 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

If we criminalized people for being negligent, we wouldn't have jobs in IT/security. ;D
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Triban

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Post Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:56 pm

Re: When is using an open wifi network a crime?

Part of me said to leave this thread to die.  But here is one other factor one should take into account before putting on their gray hat and using someone else's WiFi....

Lets say you are using it to do some "other" security research and you don't bother to anonymize yourself.  Well now your neighbor's IP gets logged while you are "testing" a website or downloading some malware "samples."  Lets say that site was actually a government site and maybe not our government.  they intern start launching attacks on your neighbor and their system is compromised.  Next thing you know they are calling all their credit card companies and banks to file identity theft reports.  Or one more, someone uses their computer to hide child porn and some local law enforcement or fed track it down.  Lots of bad things happen because you felt that their "open" WiFi was an invitation for free internet. 

As ethical hackers, we have to look past the open doors and windows and take it upon ourselves to tell the owners to close them when we find them.  Regardless if there is a law to protect them or not.  I am sure a savvy lawyer could get such a case thrown out in court by stating "Well they didn't say NOT to use the open WiFi" and state that such signage wasn't present. 

Anyway just another way to think aside from the laws.
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