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Thread: Unconfigured Wireless AP Ethics

  1. #21
    I had this situation and it turned out fine. It was my neighbor whom I know fairly well. I just told him that I was setting up my network and when the laptop was looking for my network I noticed an open one besides my own and determined it was his.

    I don't know if this is applicable outside the States but just have then go to and they will likely be able to see their open network displayed on the Internet. That might get their attention.
    \"If you give me six lines written
    by the most honest man, I will find
    something in them to hang him.\" C.R.

  2. #22
    AO Senior Cow-beller
    zencoder's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    Mountain standard tribe.
    Originally posted here by card_richelieu
    I had this situation and it turned out fine. It was my neighbor whom I know fairly well. I just told him that I was setting up my network and when the laptop was looking for my network I noticed an open one besides my own and determined it was his.

    I don't know if this is applicable outside the States but just have then go to and they will likely be able to see their open network displayed on the Internet. That might get their attention.
    That's great for you, but it is almost entirely due to your previous relationship with your neighbor and how you went about explaining it to him.

    The best-case-scenario legal implications of using someones wifi AP (if you aren't doing anything hinkey, just using their AP to connect to the Internet via their ISP) is Unauthorized Use of Services/Resources. Do anything else, and your bound to cross all sorts of lines.

    <WARNING> The following section describes activities that may have been considered illegal at the time, if detected and successfully prosecuted. They are presented here as a learning tool, NOT AS AN ADVOCATION OF ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR!</WARNING>

    Nihil said it in his post, most folks aren't too keen to have their deficiencies pointed out to them. Years ago (I mean, upwards of 10), I was playing with the original BackOrifice from Dildog and the cDc. I was finding TONS of infected systems. I was still kind of young, dumb, and full of nevermind...before I had really considered the implications of "moral and ethical" behavior and whatnot. But one system I found had a REALLY low latency to me, so I started poking around, being young and dumb and not realizing or THINKING how inappropriate it was...I was just filling the vouyeristic urge each of us has to some degree.

    I figured out that this guy was playing Ultima Online, and that he was logged in to ICQ. So, I decide to try and be the good samaritan and let him know he's hosed. I had found the whole BO package contents, and determined he had downloaded it and had infected himself (as was easy to do...the executable was in the archive, and many people would double click it thinking it would run a utility to setup the package to infect others or something...why RTFM when we can point and click, right?)

    So I sent a system message using BO, explaining (anonymously) who I was and what was going on, and I told him I'd ICQ him from a certain ICQ of my many anonymous ones. He messages me, we exchange email addresses (again, one of my anonymous ones) and I send him some links to help him clean it up, and then he acts kinda of put out and says "Don't contact me anymore". So I respect his wishes and leave him alone...but for the life of me, that system was reporting "Orifice Open" for several weeks after that...until I got tired of the whole thing and stopped scanning subnets.

    And what do you know? The next day, my anonymous account is signed up for half a dozen listservs and spam. *****er had added my account to them to mess with me. Not that it mattered, it was an anonymous throw-away account, but the point is...

    No good deed goes unpunished. IMHO, if you REALLY feel the urge to "do something good", instead of telling these folks anything, go serve food at the soup kitchen. They'll appreciate your help a lot more than your neighbors would.
    "Data is not necessarily information. Information does not necessarily lead to knowledge. And knowledge is not always sufficient to discover truth and breed wisdom." --Spaf
    Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should on no account be allowed to do the job. --Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
    "...people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right." - Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

  3. #23
    Member aciscorouter's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    Brampton, ON, Canada
    I personally love the fact I can go anywhere in my Vibe with my laptop and pringle can and find Internet access! I'm at the park with my kid and can check my email, I go on vacation and we can check our email on the drive! LOL... Hey, if you're going to be in my neighborhood I'll give you my ESSID and key and you can surf away (all major credit cards accepted by my proxy )

    I had a neighbour three houses away that was the second person on our street to get an AP (I was the first and watched with Network Stumbler all the time to see who else was bleeding-edge). His AP was wide open, SSID was SMC and him and his wife were developers so they shared their PCs and printers on the LAN.

    I just about died when I saw how vulnerable this guy was and went and knocked on his door with the SMC WiFi security guide in my hand. I told him in my passionate, paranoid, security professional way that he is opening the universe to potential aliens from another galaxy and the odd war-driver who could really mess him up good. He looked at me with a half interested poker face and said thanks, he'd deal with it.

    I checked this guys progress daily for a month and then decided he needed a reminder. So I connected to his printer (over the shared LAN) and printed out in 36 pt. Arial Bold "Thanks for sharing the Internet, I was just driving by and got an address". After I had done this I waited for him to knock on my door and I was ready to defend my reasoning and give him some fire and brimstone. He never showed up. I was curious. So I fired up Net Stumbler and I'll be damned! He was gone from the radar! I scanned again after that a few times and he never showed up again. So either he read the documentation and did things properly, or his wife was home when the printer started spitting the anonymous message and she freaked and started bashing all of the computer equipment at home with a ball-bat blessed in holy water.

    DISCLAIMER: don't try this at home kiddies because it's not an ethical thing to do and when having a showdown with a corporate entity they can drag your ass through the courts and have you pay out punitive damages to their reputation (even if all you did was scan them and showed up suggesting they're a bunch of Noobs).

    "I used up all my sick days, so I’m calling in dead."

  4. #24
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    sorry to drudge up an old post, but i have to ask a question....maybe i'm naive, but are people really THAT PISSED when you tell them they are bleeding wifi access to whoever drives by??? I find that so irrational....i run my network wide open right now and i don't think i would be righteously offended if someone told me so. I cannot fathon why someone would get so upset over something like's like being mad at the "guy" across the street cause he knocked on my door to tell me it's raining and my car windows are down. Well, hell hit him in the face and say *** off???? no, do the right thing and fix your security hole!!!!! Wow, i honestly can't believe someone would be that upset!?!?.....eric
    I killed your cat you druggy b****, I thought it would bring closure to our relationship. --Rocco, Boondock Saints

  5. #25
    It's not that people are pissed off at you for doing the right thing It's that they often don't understand about computers and networks to the same depth as you might. They are scared when somebody comes along and says something to the effect of "I can access your network". To them network may be an extension of computer. So instead of being cool about it and asking what they can do to fix it, they get defensive. They may even become a little scared that you were able to track down the network to them (even if you did knock on every door in the street to do so. They won't know that).
    It all comes down to a fear of the unknown. They don't know much about the problem. They don't know what the problem means. They don't know how much more you know than them. They don't know your motives. It all adds up to them getting defensive and being angry at you. Of course there are sometimes other reasons, but this would be my top reason.
    If everything looks perfect, then there is something you don\'t know

  6. #26
    Dissident 4dm1n brokencrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Shawnee country
    Fear of the unknown often leads us to think the worst of others, too.
    “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” — Will Rogers

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