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Important Wireless Question

463 Views 13 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Asus Mobile
Does anyone know if it is illegal to use an open connection? For example, lets say I have my laptop and I'm going down the street, and someone has an open wireless connection... am I able to use it without permission BECAUSE it isn't locked?

Is the burden on me to not use the unsecured connection, or is on the owner to secure it?
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I wouldn't recommend using some strangers wifi. Like instance, I use to live in apartments. I would purposely leave my network unsecured and run ethereal/cain and abel, any other types of network protocol analyzers (sniffers). I never did anything, but it was funny how I made the networks name "haxin your interwebs", or "don't use me", and people around me would still use it. I don't think it is illegal to use an unsecured network. It's cracking a wep network and using it that is illegal.
The last I heard about this (which was several months back) I believe it was still up for debate among the courts as to whether or not it should be considered illegal to do. At the moment I don't believe it's illegal, but don't quote me on that.
I can guarantee it depends where you are. I currently have no knowledge if any States in the US have State legislation. I guarantee cities and other local government bodies do. At present I am not aware of any across the board overturning of these local ordinances.

So in most cases likely not illegal if unsecured but not always. The cracking of protection is illegal almost everywhere I think maybe even at the Federal level as in the US Federal Government is responsible for most radio transmissions not States. So hacking in might be a Federal offense.

Call the Federal prosecutor in your area give them your name tell them what you are doing and ask? NOT.

My comments only deal with the US I have zero clue elsewhere. I am currently on a connection that is unsecured even though I could plug my Sprint wireless unlimited in. Just prefer to not have the dongle sticking out.
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I think it is still technically illegal....

Originally Posted by DuckieHo View Post
I think it is still technically illegal....
If you mean morally wrong no argument.

If you mean technically illegal? Yea I can see arguments that could be made. The obvious is the uninvited use limits the owners ability (takes up bandwidth). But here in the states no local prosecutor wants to spend time on that.

Duckie let me ask you your opinion. Do you not think people having unsecured wireless setups are being foolish? Foolish to the point of other more harsh words being used?

I am not a lawyer but let me throw something at you and it varies from state to State. Trespass which this situation clearly could be construed as. In Michigan. And I am not sure of how posting notice affects or does not. And an open unsecured network certainly not qualify as notice at any level. But back to notice. If I am say banned from a public store and I go back. The store calls the police. The police come. At that point you are read your trespass notice/rights. After that you will be arrested.

See the law is specific and well it is complicated. By not following common sense it in fact does prevent some injustices while at the same time protracting what should be easy resolutions. Oh and at the same time creates lots of well paying jobs.

Duckie certain you are beyond caring about my rambling comments. Consider in many/most states. If you leave your house unlocked. I go in and steal from you. Well I might of committed burglary I did not commit a breaking and entry. Whether you or I agree society has determined through legislation that someone who walks up to homes and walks away when locked is less of a threat than someone who walks up finds the house secured and figures out how to gain access. I actually find some justification for this logic. I do find both actions unacceptable.

That last example should be considered. By that I mean anti hacking laws being harsh and punitive should certainly be less for stumbling onto an unsecured network.

Also even if you stumble into an unsecured network you are still responsible for your actions. Meaning that the destruction of or attempted retrieval of sensitive information for criminal purposes is illegal for some reasons touched on above and many others. But the OP example was clearly non destructive.

And finally regardless of any "crime" committed to sustain a criminal conviction, criminal intent must be established. That can be done in many ways including by statute.

Duckie that is my response to the four dots at the end of your post.
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I do it and don't really care or worry... but I believe it is technically illegal (or some really really really reeeeeeeally bored lawyer/DA might take it up).

Do it and just be sure not to do any secure transactions while on an unknown network. In case you do get in trouble, I'm not liable.
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It's sort of a gray area and it depends on a case-to-case as to what you end up doing through/over the open network.

I generally don't use the unsecured ones unless it's a public Wi-Fi spot (like Starbucks).
Just go ask them if you can use it. If they say no then show them how to lock their network so that you won't be tempted anymore. Chances are you could log into it change their router passwords and enable a mac filter your self for them. That would be nice of you.
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BUt would you like people to leach of your internet and steal the bandwith?

Originally Posted by Rebel4055
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BUt would you like people to leach of your internet and steal the bandwith?

I would say no! But do you not think in this age if they did care it is insane to have an unsecured network? I mean that is what we are talking about? I have old relatives and they have theirs protected. I mean I doubt a high level but not unsecured. Don't the installation prompts at least encourage a password?

Then again as one of the earlier posters said he kept his open as a fishing expedition? See the irony?

I leave mine open then steal from you?

Do any of you see the quandary in that? If It is illegal but you entice me and then steal my info. How does the law deal with that?

On a purely logical plane. I guess child xual abuse might be OK if the child took the lollipop.

I disagree with what I said above but kind of a twisted black and white interpretation.

The long and the short is if I walk thru the Ghetto and wave $100's and someone steals them? I don't think it should be a high priority for the Police. I feel the same about unsecured networks. The world has bigger problems than protecting people from their own stupidity!

Consider, and to OP many of us do what you ask of. Consider you could be a mark for others? Nothing in life is free. As Duckie said make sure if doing to be secure.

Edit: Darwin awards!
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Alright, thanks guys. Good to know your opinions on the matter... guess I'll just do it with a spoofed MAC addy. Hehe.

Originally Posted by Odyn
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guess I'll just do it with a spoofed MAC addy. Hehe.

That, and make sure you don't type in any passwords, or any important information. Here in Virginia it's not illegal. The way I see it, if the person who sets up the network doesn't secure it, it's open to the public. I go wardriving alot, and about 70 percent of the networks I come across are unsecured. I think it's just the lack of knowledge.
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To OP I think you missed the point of 90% of the comments! But hey be cheap?
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