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Man Arrested for Using Open Wireless Network

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the reefer-madness dept.

Wireless Networking 1443

DaCool42 writes "In Tampa Bay, a man has been arrested for using a wide open WiFi AP. The St. Petersburg Times has the full story. 'It's no different if I went out and bought a Microsoft program and started sharing it with everyone in my apartment. It's theft,' said Kena Lewis, spokeswoman for Bright House Networks in Orlando."

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Open doors (5, Informative)

bburton (778244) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991462)

Police say Benjamin Smith III, 41, used his Acer brand laptop to hack into Dinon's wireless Internet network.
Yeah, because we all know how much "hacking" is required to use wide open WiFi connections.

Also, the poor guy admitted to using the connection too (unauthorized access to a computer network, which is a third degree felony according to the article). Now, if he would have just asked for a lawyer and then shut up, he probably would have gotten off with just a warning.

Re:Open doors (5, Funny)

Kethinov (636034) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991491)

You mean the free internet I'm getting from my neighbors isn't legal? :(

Re:Open doors (5, Funny)

PopeAlien (164869) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991503)

It remains unclear what Smith was using the Wi-Fi for, to surf, play online video games, send e-mail to his grandmother, or something more nefarious.

.. or quite possibly.. ALL OF THE ABOVE!

For safeties sake lets just outlaw the internet.

Re:Open doors (2, Informative)

L.Bob.Rife (844620) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991509)

Dont some wireless setups automatically search for an open wifi channel to use?

Dont lots of businesses leave open wifi connections for customers to use?

Re:Open doors (5, Interesting)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991583)

I've got a handheld (Dell Axim) and frequently when I am out and about, I'll turn it on to see what networks are open.

The other day I was eating my lunch near some businesses, and I found 4 networks...3 of which were completely open.

I sat there and checked my e-mail while I ate lunch...not a big deal.

Then I went into one of the businesses (that is the reason I was out in front eating) and I saw a big 'free wireless networking' sign on their counter. And this was a physical therapy clinic...

Re:Open doors (3, Funny)

pwnage (856708) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991562)

Wow, no kidding. I commit this crime every time I go over to my girlfriend's apartment! Better get me a lawyer.

Re:Open doors (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991592)

Right now you're accessing network that you have no received permission to access. Guarenteed. How can I possibly know? Well heck, you're posting on Slashdot. The whole concept of the Internet is based around a default policy of openness. It is assumed that we have permission to access anything connected to the Internet and that assumption is only revoked by layering an authentication system on top. These people who buy a wireless router, connect it to their network, don't even bother to turn on the authentication system and expect it to be private are just pissing in the pool.

fp (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991463)

fp!

I was in Tampa recently (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991464)

Brighthouse has really gay advertising. So I'm not suprised by this.

I live in Orlando. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991559)

I don't understand why they changed names. Did Time Warner Cable have a bad rap or something? As far as I know, it is still called Time Warner Cable in other markets. Brighthouse is such a faggot name. "Do you live in a Brighthouse?"

perhaps (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991465)

fr057 P155??

Yeah... (1)

Mike Markley (9536) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991467)

So let's arrest the people who do that, too. Hell, let's give the death penalty for all crimes, even the smallest misdemeanors!

Re:Yeah... (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991516)

So be it for all infractions of Wunderlaw!

Re:Yeah... (0, Offtopic)

rekenner (849871) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991609)

... Damn, I wish I had mod points... +1 funny.

someone woke up on the wrong side of freedom (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991525)

now now, go back and pray to your bush shrine that he will forgive you for your horrible anti american thoughts

YOU DID IT! (0, Troll)

FIRST BUSH BASH! (897588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991646)

You were the first person bash George Bush in this article. Congratulations!!!

Re:Yeah... (5, Insightful)

pmazer (813537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991627)

You could be arrested if your neighbor happens to also have a wireless network and your computer decides it likes that one better one day. That's egregious.

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991638)

Soylent Green is people!

A poor analogy (4, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991468)

I dunno... I think a more appropriate analogy would be if one installed a huge arse window in the front of your house, then stuck a giant plasma TV in it and getting annoyed and frustrated when people stopped by and watched TV through you window.

It's not a perfect analogy, but it's much better than the 'It's no different if I went out and bought a Microsoft program and started sharing it with everyone in my apartment. It's theft' argument.

I dont want to bang on the "the guy had it coming" drum, but Dinon admitted he KNEW how to secure his wifi but declined because most of the people in his neighborhood are "older". That suggests to me, at least on this topic, that he wasn't acting like the sharpest knife in the drawer. But still, it's more than a little unsettling to have some 40-something guy sitting outside your house using your resources. While the article doesn't say he was a perv, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he was -- and pulling kiddie porn or somesuch.

Re:A poor analogy (5, Insightful)

ne0nex (612727) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991504)

no different if I went out and bought a Microsoft program and started sharing it with everyone in my apartment. It's theft'

or better yet, continuing to use her flawed analogy:

It's like buying a Microsoft program, and leaving the open box, with the jewel case and installation media on the sidewalk in front of your house then bitching when someone walks by and installs it.

Re:A poor analogy (2, Informative)

connect4 (209782) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991653)

The quote about microsoft programs in the story summary is completely and utterly out of context, the guy in the story is actually refering to people who share their cable connection with their neighbours using wireless, so their neighbours don't have to get their own - which is probably against the ISPs terms and conditions

Re:A poor analogy (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991507)

It's not brain surgery to secure a WiFi connection. If this guy intentionally transmitted and received radio packets, then perhaps he should be prosecuted by his ISP.

More like a stow-away (1)

lheal (86013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991510)

or a railroad hitchhiker. The train's going to Chicago whether I'm on it or not, and except for the smell, no one would notice I was there.

Who was harmed by this guy?

I guess the ISP was denied a hypothetical customer.

Re:A poor analogy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991522)

While the article doesn't say he was a perv, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he was -- and pulling kiddie porn or somesuch.

Seeing that you're a Slashdot subscriber, I wouldn't be suprised if you listen to The Who and download kiddie porn.

(mods: please mentally insert some "sarcasm" tags before modding this down.)

I wouldn't be a bit suprised... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991586)

...if he smoked marihuana cigarettes.

A typical evening at Kena's house. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991574)

"Mommm, can I use your copy of Microsoft BOB?!"

"No sweetie. Start saving your allowance and get your own damn copy!"

Don't leave keys in car (3, Interesting)

network23 (802733) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991597)


I dont want to bang on the "the guy had it coming" drum, but Dinon admitted he KNEW how to secure his wifi but declined because most of the people in his neighborhood are "older".

In most countries it is illegal to leave the keys in your car. Partly to not give kids and others an opportunity to hurt themselves or others.

But really..... (5, Interesting)

DotNM (737979) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991470)

How was the guy supposed to know that he didn't intend for the AP to be open to everyone.

AP makers should force, once the device is connected for the first time, for it to go to a config page which outlines all the security settings (WEP, etc.)..... maybe then some people will start to understand security.

Re:But really..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991537)

They might better understand security but with WEP they wouldn't necessarily be getting it.

Just nitpicking in classic /. style, but truthfully if you're going to try to raise awareness you might as well promote more effective tech.

Re:But really..... (1)

pwnage (856708) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991589)

The problem with that idea is that simply presenting a page on first use on how to configure WEP or WPA doesn't actually mean that people will be smart enough to then configure both the AP and client(s) with encryption. I usually use the grandma test, as in "could my grandma do it?"

Anyway, what's really needed in future versions of the WiFi spec is "zero-configuration strong encryption."

Re:But really..... (1)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991595)

How was the guy supposed to know that he didn't intend for the AP to be open to everyone.

I think that's the key... any company I've worked at always has a logon message for any server warning about unauthorized access and how it's a private network. Presumably that helps prove that any intruders knew they were intruding.

What if someone walked around with a laptop set up as a wireless access point and server, and tracked down anyone's PC that connected to it and sued them / had them arrested for unauthorized access? Where do you draw the line?

So which busineses are next? (1)

derrickh (157646) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991478)

A lot of business have wide open wireless networks, either intentionally or because of poor security. When will the cops bust into the local Century 21 office and arrest everyone because they never put a password on thier router?

D

ok (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991481)

this is rediculous
andrew briscoe

Eating hotdogs without a permit (1, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991482)

it's just like theft!!

Should charge the idiots who leave in unencrypted (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991486)

If microsoft left xp disks at street corners unattended complete with legal cororate serial numbers would they be surprised if people were using them? Same idiocy here. Leave a network open and someone's going to get in. If you're lucky it's just for free internet.

Well, the quote's naff... (2, Insightful)

EvilMagnus (32878) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991488)

...but the actual facts are more compelling. It seemas though the person using the unsecured wifi was engaged in less than legal activity. If the owner is lucky it was just spam - but it could well have been credit card fraud or even (gasp!) child porn.

The moral of this story? Don't switch wi-fi on unless you *really* know what you're doing.

Re:Well, the quote's naff... (1)

teksno (838560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991582)

if the owner is dumb enough to leave his wifi unsecured then his boxen are probably already zombies spaming million of people about the benifets of p3n|5 enl@rG3/\/\ent!!!11!!

WTF? (4, Insightful)

LearnToSpell (694184) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991492)

"It's no different if I went out and bought a Microsoft program and started sharing it with everyone in my apartment. It's theft."

No it isn't. It's not even a copyright problem. What, now I need an extra license if somebody's visiting and they want to check their mail?

It remains unclear what Smith was using the Wi-Fi for, to surf, play online video games, send e-mail to his grandmother...

Don't let that stop you from closing out the article with wild speculation though.

"I'm mainly worried about what the guy may have uploaded or downloaded, like kiddie porn," Dinon said.

Re:WTF? (1)

bburton (778244) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991550)

What, now I need an extra license if somebody's visiting and they want to check their mail?
I agree with the spirit of what you're saying here, but the priciple difference is that in one case you are giving permission, while in the other you are not.

Re:WTF? (5, Insightful)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991587)

Sure you are giving permission, if your network hands out an address to anyone who comes along you have basically given them permission to use it.

Look at it this way, if you leave your porch light on, is it illegal for someone to use it to read by if they are out on the public street?

Re:WTF? (1)

connect4 (209782) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991623)

The quote about microsoft products in the story summary is completely out of context, the story is actually refering to people who share their cable connection with their neighbours using wireless, which is probably against the AUP of the service provider.

Re:WTF? (1)

salparadyse (723684) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991578)

What, now I need an extra license if somebody's visiting and they want to check their mail? No no no no no, don't say that, you'll give them ideas.

terms of service. (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991608)

No it isn't. It's not even a copyright problem. What, now I need an extra license if somebody's visiting and they want to check their mail?


Most ISPs have a "terms of service" contract which specify restrictions on what you're allowed to do with your wireless network. A simplified version of one of the most common terms is, "You can't share this connection with your neighborhood."

In that sense, it's actually more like the stated example than outright theft: in both cases, no one has been deprived of the "stolen" goods, but the provider of the software/service has been deprived of a source of revenue, due to someone else's violation of a contract. Except the terms of service with your ISP are likely a lot more enforceable than a EULA, seeing as how you actually have to sign something.

Personally, I think the guy is guilty of a crime, and deserving of punshiment: a slap on the wrist, a stern reprimand, and a fine of maybe $50 for being creepy.

Re:WTF? (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991630)

No it isn't. It's not even a copyright problem. What, now I need an extra license if somebody's visiting and they want to check their mail?

No shit. The worst they could do to you is probably cancel your service.

If you get caught committing copyright infringement, the penalty could be as high as $150,000 per copy, depending on the circumstances.

Pretty big difference.

If I leave my back door open... (4, Insightful)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991494)

... I shouldn't expect to be robbed, or for someone to come in and watch my TV and drink my beer any time they like.
The cost of them watching my TV and drinking my beer might be minimal, but that's not the point. It's my TV and my beer.

This is the reason people lock their doors and close their windows. We shouldn't need to worry about people coming into our homes, but we do. These people need to learn to secure their wireless points.

I am in no way justifying what this guy did, but hopefully it will highlight something to Joe Average and get them to lock their AP's down tighter (or in most cases, lock them down at all).
On noting the open point, this guy should have at least tried to locate its owner and let them know about it, maybe even offer to help them fix the problem. Instead he took advantage for his own gain, just like any petty theft act really.

Re:If I leave my back door open... (1)

jumbledInTheHead (837677) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991551)

I don't know if you were trying to use an anology, but it was an awful one if you were trying. Many people leave their AP unprotected to share it. That might seem like communism to some, but some people don't care. It's more like having a candy jar at the front desk of an office. It doesn't say please help yourself, but the assumption is if your curtious it is okay to take a piece. It's not hacking into an AP, the guy was sharing it to his neighbors. Lock up the guy with the AP, not the guy using it.

P.S. The guy in the story does seem pretty scetchy. I walked down my street and have used my neighbor's internet, and I think all my friends with wifi have used somebody else's router without explicit consent at some point. What's that knocking, ohh no the FBI...

Re:If I leave my back door open... (1)

jumbledInTheHead (837677) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991565)

Post post script: My cousin leaves his AP unprotected, not because he is ignorant or lazy, but because he doesn't care if anyone uses his internet. It's called sharing, some people need to go back to kindergarden.

Re:If I leave my back door open... (1)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991594)

What colour is the sky where you live? Do they have cookies there?

This "it's called sharing" shit just doesn't cut it. I share my wireless access point with my neighbour, that doesn't mean it's unsecured. Let's compare it to your phone service.

I am well within my legal right to place my landline telephone on my front porch. I could even put a big sign up saying "Hey, free phone." Now let's imagine that somebody uses that phone to make numerous threatening calls to people. I am then an irresponsible jackass for allowing my service to be used in that manner.

The analogy isn't so much broken as peoples perceptions of this issue are. If I find an open point, I find the owners and tell them. Most genuinely don't realise what they're doing and that they're allowing access to strangers. Letting them know or offering my knowledge is also called "sharing", I share the knowledge of how to secure their shit so they're not only covering their own ass but they're not paying for freeloaders to utilise their 'net connection.

Re:If I leave my back door open... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991629)

And some people need to read the terms of service; the service is not yours to share.

Re:If I leave my back door open... (5, Insightful)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991611)

But if you leave your TV facing the front window, and you don't close the blinds, you shouldn't be surprised when people on the sidewalk look through your window and watch the TV you're paying for.

An open wireless network is hardly a "back door" - it advertises its existence to the world, and it blankets an entire area. Walking in through a back door means targeting a specific house and looking for a way in, but it may not even be possible for the average person to figure out which house is hosting a particular wireless network.

Re:If I leave my back door open... (1)

Punboy (737239) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991612)

True, but you arent transmitting your TV and beer into my space. However, the transmissions from the WiFi AP were going into the mans vehicle. He "saw" them and said "hey look, free internet". Before someone says "Ya, but his using it also transmitted into the guys home!": You're right. So lets make it illegal for anyone to transmit anything onto anybody else's property without permission. Goodbye public television, radio, WiFi in general. If its unsecured, its open. Deal with it or close your network.

Re:If I leave my back door open... (1)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991648)

How about someone else's analogy - If my neighbor leaves their porch light on and the light comes to my yard and I sit on a chair in my yard and read a book in that light. Now if you were that neighbor, you would be trying to sue me for using your light that is coming in my yard???

RTFA (4, Insightful)

swtaarrs (640506) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991496)

If you actually read the article you'll see that he was sitting outside someone's house in his SUV using his laptop. That is quite different from simply tacking onto your neighbor's network, he was outside the house sitting there for the sole purpose of leeching off his internet connection. While the Microsoft analogy is a bit stiff, at least read the article before you all go crazy.

Re:RTFA (1)

pwnage (856708) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991626)

Maybe he was using Hotline.

Re:RTFA (3, Interesting)

Penguin Programmer (241752) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991641)

I fail to see a difference. If you go to a library solely use their internet, it's no different from if you go to get a book and happen to check your email while you're there. If you go and sit in your own car outside someone else's house and listen to the radio, it's the same as listening to it at home (well, it's a bit weirder to sit in your car, but equally legal). Fact is, the guy was on public property, accessing public, unencrypted radio signals. There's nothing illegal about that as far as I know. If the connection was encrypted it would be a different story - cracking the encryption on a wireless connection is illegal in many districts - however, that was simply not the case here.

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink (4, Interesting)

DJ_Tricks (664229) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991499)

and i supose if you go and drink water from a public fountatin i should be arrested too for the fact the water is open to the public and not locked down. Sounds like they dont want to take fault for not fencing up a public oasis in the middle of no where because you know if it isnt yours its owned already by some one else more powerful and richer then you. Also what if the wifi is a public wifi by choice for the people to use? is it still stealing then?

Omar Shariff (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991532)

I guess you didn't see that scene in "Lawrence of Arabia" where Peter Toole meets up with Omar Shariff at a desert well (that scene was ripped off in one of the later Star Trek movies but played differently).

Looks like a victimless crime to me (1)

putko (753330) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991500)

In this case, the "victim" doesn't know what the bad guy was doing. There's no sign that he did anything to harm anybody.

Maybe he was just surfing something he didn't want his girlfriend seeing.

It seems odd that in this case, they don't even need to show intent or harm, to hit him with a felony.

Erm.. (5, Insightful)

mar1no (559482) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991502)

I always thought stuff like this was a little weird.

It is like a radio station only allowing members to listen to their station, but broadcasting to everyone and saying if someone who isn't a member listens in, they are breaking the law. Either set up your shit so only authorized people can access it, or don't and not be permitted to have unauthorized people arrested for using it.

Re:Erm.. (1)

DotNM (737979) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991515)

I fully agree. If I recall correctly, isn't there something in the law that says you have to take "reasonable precautions" or something along that line?

Re:Erm.. (1)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991561)

No, it's more like me leaving my doors and windows open and not expecting someone to come in and either take goods from my house, or use my utilities for free.

I have at first done something stupid by not securing my shit, but the people that find my shit unsecured and using it to their advantage are still scumbags.

This guy is a scumbag. Not the same kind of scumbag that steals cars or mugs old ladies, just the vanilla lazy scumbag with lax morality and sense of ownership.

Re:Erm.. (1)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991610)

Using your analogy of utility usage, should someone be prosecuted for using the light of your porch lamp to read by? If they are not trespassing on your property?

You mean this isn't Starbucks? (1)

TequilaJunction (713856) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991514)

How about the "I thought this was one of those free municpal WiFi points I keep reading about" defense?

Entrapment? (1)

guardiangod (880192) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991517)

If I have someone I hate, could I just setup an open AP network in my house, ask the guy over and ask him to bring his windows laptop. When his MS' ever-helpful wireless connection program tries to connect to my honey-pot, *BAM* the police and the NSA (hey they helped RIAA too, so obviously they have tons of free time.) comes out of hiding and nail the guy.

Bad Example (0, Redundant)

JoaoPinheiro (749991) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991518)

It's no different if I went out and bought a Microsoft program and started sharing it with everyone in my apartment.

I think they picked a bad example there. :P

Re:Bad Example (1)

TequilaJunction (713856) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991549)

Yeah, it's not called "sharing" anymore. Someone should sue the guy with the open AP for IP theft.

This guys is a jackass! (3, Funny)

ad0le (684017) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991519)

He could have kept his mouth shut... blamed his "connection" on Windows XP's "auto connect" feature for WiFi devices and sued Microsoft for incured losses..... I'm resisting the urge to say .... Profit!!!

question... (1)

jazzman251 (887873) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991521)

I feel that it was right to criminally punish the man, maybe not arrest him. He was using something that he wasn't paying for (and something that wasnt free to the owners). Imagine if somebody walked into an unlocked house (open connection) and started using their water or used their phone or DSL line, would this be behaviour where law enforcement is needed? Of course! There would be penalties for trespassing for the latter, but the crimes are pretty much the same. However, to many people, only one of those crimes is actually seen as a crime.

Re:question... (1)

ad0le (684017) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991554)

Imagine if somebody walked into an unlocked house (open connection) and started using their water or used their phone or DSL line, would this be behaviour where law enforcement is needed?
First off, my house isn't public property. The analogy would be more akin to me taking the waterhose from my house and placing on the sidewalk.
A house is private property, once you enter into public domain (this connection was availible outside thier office), it becomes your responsibility to protect your investment....
This guy did little more than put the $5 he found on the street in his pocket..

Re:question... (1)

jazzman251 (887873) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991567)

This guy did little more than put the $5 he found on the street in his pocket..

And got arrested for it? I think that analogy is a little too innocent.

Re:question... (2, Insightful)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991570)

That is completely flawed. This would be like someone drinking from the neighbors sprinklers shooting over the fence.

Re:question... (1)

Tigwyk (855379) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991576)

The problem with the "breaking into your house to steal your internet" analogy is that networks aren't the same as physical property. It's still legal to mooch off an unprotected WiFi network (at least it is here) because there's no unlawful entry. You don't need to "hack" it to gain access to an unprotected WiFi network. If you're uninvited, then the owner of the AP should set it up so you're not allowed in. If you're able to gain access by just clicking connect, that to me is an invitation. That says "Hey, I want YOU on my network, because I didn't tell you NOT to get on my network by protecting it." As for the real life analogy.. is it illegal if you invite a trespasser onto your property? Is he then no longer trespassing? Hmmm...

Re:question... (1)

jazzman251 (887873) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991628)

is it illegal if you invite a trespasser onto your property? Is he then no longer trespassing? Hmmm...

I say if somebody left their front door wide open, then people (mainly theives) will see it as an 'invitation' to go inside just like how you see an unprotected network as an 'invitation' to use it. To paraphrase, "Hey, I want YOU in my house, because I didn't tell you NOT to get in my house by protecting it." Yes I know that entering the house is illegal, im just trying to show that the principles are the same.

It is theft (1, Insightful)

Freaky Spook (811861) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991528)

Even though it was an unsecured network, he was still stealing network bandwidth & accessing something he shouldn't be, its fair that he was caught & should be punished for it.

Just because a user isn't smart enough to use an encryption doesn't mean its ok to rip them off & steal from them.

there is a huge problem with Security though, the WiFi routers work as soon as you plug them in and the documentation doesn't stress enough how important it is to secure your network, terms like WEP & WPA-PSK scare the user & confuse them. I think the router manufactuers or the salesmen need to make their customers more aware of securing their networks and show them how easy it is to do.

I wonder how long before we see a suit where a customer sues a manufacturer for not making security clear & easy enough to set up when they purchased & installed a router.

Re:It is theft (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991579)

Not smart enough to enable encryption? How hard is it to read the fucking manual?

Re:It is theft (4, Informative)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991624)

It is theft

Even though it was an unsecured network, he was still stealing network bandwidth & accessing something he shouldn't be, its fair that he was caught & should be punished for it.

No. You do forget that we are discussing radio technology. The AP actually broadcasts an invitation beacon for wifi client devices to join the network. It is like having someone put up a big pile of things on a table, stand by it shouting "Here take some" and then calling cops if you do.

If you still have doubts, ponder this educational question: How can you tell a difference between a "public" open AP and one opened by mistake, while trying to browse the web from your laptop on a park bench downtown?

A: Unless the ESSID is "SEKRIT!" or "DONT_YOU_DARE!" you can't.

QED.

I wonder how long before we see a suit where a customer sues a manufacturer for not making security clear & easy enough to set up when they purchased & installed a router.

This is in fact a much wiser course of action. The wireless gear should come with maximum security on by default and require multiple prompts to lower the protection level. But blaming the "nefarious" "hacker" is far more sexy and easier for brain-dead prosecutors then going against a large multinational.

Then if the gear is left wide open, no idiot can claim "I didn't mean to do this, honest!". Otherwise (and from the vague statements of the "victim" in this case a likely scenario) it is simply an entrapment, vigilante excercise, a.k.a leaving a wallet on a sidewalk and then shooting anyone who tries to pick it up for "attempted roberry".

Not quite (5, Insightful)

secondsun (195377) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991529)

Ok, the headline should read "Man Arrested While Using Open Wireless Network." He was arrested because he had been sitting in front of a guys house all day in his suv on his computer. Whenever he was approached he would shut his notebook and look suspicious. After a few hours of the nonsense the police were called.

The rest of the article is standard "open wireless is for kiddie porn and a gateway to identity theft" FUD. Of course, most people just use it to download music for free, but the warnings of consequences for the owner of the network are legit. If your network is used in-appropriatly, you ARE responsible.

Turn on encryption, add a password, add mac based filtering, turn off dhcp and you are pretty much set.

Re:Not quite (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991651)

Ok, the headline should read "Man Arrested While Using Open Wireless Network." He was arrested because he had been sitting in front of a guys house all day in his suv on his computer.

What's illegal about that?

in other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991534)

man arrested for using public bathroom without permission

hardware (2, Insightful)

jazzman251 (887873) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991539)

why is this under hardware?, shouldnt it be under yro or something?

Re:hardware (1)

klang (27062) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991652)

it will be duped under yro in a few days ..

A felony? (1)

xiaomonkey (872442) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991540)

From the article:

It remains unclear what Smith was using the Wi-Fi for, to surf, play online video games, send e-mail to his grandmother, ...

I really hope it's not any of these. I mean being convicted of a 3rd degree felony for just surfing the web or sending e-mail using someone else's network seems really extreme. Shouldn't something like this be a more of a misdemeanor?

Sharing your internet connection (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991541)

I am rather appalled at the attitude of an ISP that sharing your connection is somehow stealing from them. This is one of the many reasons I am so happy with SpeakEasy [speakeasy.net] for my DSL. They not only allow you to share your connection freely, they will help you charge your neighbors if you provide that service [speakeasy.net] . You provide the tech support and bandwidth, they will reduce your bill and manage billing those you share your connection with.

It makes sense -- they're selling you bandwidth, and how you use that is up to you.

Just the radio waves (1)

parasonic (699907) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991552)

Now how about this scenario? I've had issues with connectivity before. Sometimes there are several AP's open in an area, say, Joe with his AP, 'linksys' and another guy, Bob, once again with an open access router, just say 'linksys' again, open by default. Two poorly configured AP's.

What's going to keep Bob from accidentally using Joe's poorly configured connection? I've had my Wifi connection die...probably everyone reading this has. It's also kind of hard to differentiate sometimes. What kind of average Joe is going to memorize his BSSID? ;)

Fuel for the MPAA, RIAA, etc.? (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991555)

Situations like this could lead to very interesting situations involving file sharing lawsuits.

Let us suppose that the man who was arrested was partaking in massive copyright violation (ie. 200000+ songs and movies) over the unsecured Internet connection. When the lawsuits come in, would they be able to target both individuals with lawsuits? Indeed, the person with the unsecured connection may very well not qualify for common carrier status, and thus may be liable for the copyright infringement that occurred over his connection. And then they can yet again sue the man who was using the connection. Indeed, very interesting, indeed.

Clearly wireless manufactures are at fault (1)

icecow (764255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991556)

The open wireless access induced the man to use the interenet from his car.

Wireless routers clearly should be outlawed

Re:Clearly wireless manufactures are at fault (1)

Squozen (301710) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991647)

And it was an SUV, which (being higher off the ground) makes it harder to see what the occupant is doing. Let's outlaw SUVs also.

Good. What he did was a crime. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991560)

Just because he physically didn't have to do anything doesn't mean it wasn't a crime. What if he tapped onto your cable, or phone lines? He is effectively stealing the person's bandwidth, and its good that he was prosecuted. Just because the door was left unlocked doesn't give them the right to go into your house. If you have a convertible and leave your top down, does that give people the right to sit in your car, or throw garbage in it? No.

Wait a minute here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991590)

The problem, security experts say, is many people do not take the time or are unsure how to secure their wireless access from intruders. Dinon knew what to do. "But I never did it because my neighbors are older."

So he never secured his network because he wanted his elderly neighbors to be able to access it with no problems. So wtf is his problem then?

What law? (1)

humankind (704050) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991591)

What law did this guy actually violate?

* It's not a crime to sit on a public street in your vehicle and use your computer.

* Is there a law that says receiving a transmitted signal is a crime?

Granted the guy is probably a sleazebag and was up to no good, but I'd like to know if there are laws on the books that clearly make using someone else's open wireless connection a crime?

Theft of M$ software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991598)

Sharing Micro$oft software isn't theft, it's spreading a disease! Such people should be locked up for life. It's no different to purposely spreading AIDS. THey are EViL.

Entrapment (2, Insightful)

Solder Fumes (797270) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991605)

The homeowner KNOWINGLY left his router unsecured. Then he calls the cops on a guy who was using it. What kind of assclown takes that step first? Go to your fucking router admin page, switch to encrypted wireless, and watch the guy outside drive away.

Re:Entrapment (0, Offtopic)

Frodo Crockett (861942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991644)

If I had mod points, you'd get 'em.

All kidding aside (1)

loupgarou21 (597877) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991613)

I've read a lot of analogies of people saying it's like leaving your door unlocked and someone feeling it's okay to just walk right in. In reality it's more like leaving something on your front lawn and someone coming by and using it. A large number of communities actually have laws to keep you from leaving stuff out in the open where it's easy for someone to steal or vandalize, it's called an attractive nuisance law.

A homeowner can actually be fined for doing something like leaving their house or garage unlocked or leaving things on their lawn unattended under attractive nuisance laws.

Leaving your wireless network completely unprotected is an attractive nuisance. It's almost like saying "Hey, come and connect to me."

While I don't think that people should be fined for leaving an open connection like that I think people do need to start looking at it like an actual responsability to keep people from being able to connect to their network unchallanged. And if someone does connect to your unprotected network, you will have to realize that while they shouldn't have been doing that, you too are a bit at fault for it.

ok a few things (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991617)

For the first year I lived in my current place, I used an open network, the owner of which subscribed to Bright House Orlando. So eat it BH.

Now, because of this, I plan to open my network and let other share (to some extent). So they can eat that too.

I Had A Client Doing This (4, Interesting)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991625)

That is, piggybacking off someone else's wireless in the building. I told them it was not a good idea due to security and legal concerns, among other things, exactly like the article says.

How do you know what's coming over that Internet line you're piggybacking on? Okay, so it's not going to your MAC address based on your initiated connections, but how do you know what kind of worm or virus is running on that guy's machine - and what it's scanning for in terms of local connections? It's just dumb to piggyback unless you have a really secure setup, and if you know that much, why don't you have your own wireless?

It's also possible to find out who is piggybacking once it is noticed because all you need is a laptop with NetStumbler and walk around until you get a signal from a laptop and capture the MAC address. Then just knock on the door (if you're the building manager) and demand to see the computer - if the MAC matches, it's over. This is bad news for people who are in buildings that charge for wireless access. Fortunately for them, most of the management and other tenants probably aren't that knowledgeable.

As for this guy in the article, he was obviously stupid to hang out right in front of the victim's house, and then CONTINUE to hang around even once the victim had spotted him. Guy must have been desperate for that connection for some reason, which probably means it was something illegal he couldn't afford to be seen doing at the local Starbucks.

On the other side, I can't understand what the victim meant by not having security because other residents "were older". Was he sharing with the other residents in his neighborhood? If so, then wasn't HE screwing the service provider? Did I miss something here? If it's stealing to share an open wireless access point without someone's knowledge, then it's stealing to share one WITH someone's knowledge. I don't think the terms of use of most commercial providers allow for sharing access to anyone except perhaps ones immediate family at one location (unless of course it is a building-wide access point that is paid for by the building - which doesn't apply in this case because Dinon's is a residential home.)

So it seems like this guy got arrested for accessing an individual's network while the individual involved was sharing it with his neighbors probably in violation of his Terms of Use contract.

smells fishy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991632)

I bet it's some law student/lawyer looking to get a name by having his case go to the Supreme Court. Maybe the guy got one of his buddies to open his AP then call the cops on him just to get a case going. Actually, I've always wondered why lawyers don't do that type of thing... sort of a legal honeypot. Shit, I sure as hell would. Make up a fake scenario and have my friend sue me just to try and set precendent. Is that sort of thing illegal? Maybe just get you disbarred

Strings Attached (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991634)

There's theft, there's piracy, and there's illegal access. For all of them, there's "arrest". It's time we came up with something more appropriate to the suspected crime. How does this guy walking around Tampa present a danger to unsecured WiFi accesspoints?

The Problem Is What...? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12991636)

So I can't use my neighbor's wide-open-as-a-prostitute access point provided by the phone company for DSL access when the cable provider hosed my cable internet? I guess I need to find the phone cable to dial-up and hack the internet the old fashioned way.

Openness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12991650)

I keep my WiFi 'unencrypted' deliberately. Some reasons are

I don't believe that 'domestic' WEP is secure. Neither does my employer, and he should know.

I don't owe anyone on the wider Internet a 'duty of care'. No contract with them.

Maybe some of my neighbours are poor, and need Internet access.

Anyone who came visiting, I'd let them use my PC anyway.

I hope someone would do the same for me.

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