Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Can you steal something with no Value and not Tangible

Many articles like the ones below have called a person using someone else's WiFi a thief!!! Some as you can see below even concluded that it is like stealing apples from a store.


Lets for a second not get into the issues of whether or not this person actually went into the local network, lets focus on him simply using the other persons WiFi connection.

What is he stealing???? NOTHING!!! Especially in the USA where the majority of people who have WiFi at their home have broadband and the majority of these broadband customers do not have a limit on how much KB they can download, which means surfing on someone else WiFi is really stealing nothing. ( It would even be hard to prove that having the two of them on the same network slows the response time of the owner, which if proven would maybe fit into stealing the owners time [milliseconds] as he waits for response.)

I am not sure of a good analogy but how is it different from breathing the air from your neighbors backyard?

Your comments are welcome.

Floridian Faces Wireless Trespassing Charges
By Jay Lyman
Part of the ECT News Network
07/08/05 11:45 AM PT
"This is very similar to you walking down the street where a store has apples and oranges, and you grab one and keep going," said Ovum Vice President of Wireless Telecoms Roger Entner "Just because it's happening, and I think it's happening frequently, doesn't make it right."

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A Florida man faces stiff penalties for allegedly accessing someone's residential WiFi Internet connection while parked outside the supposed victim's home in April.
Police in St. Petersburg reportedly said 41-year-old Benjamin Smith would be charged with unlawfully accessing a computer network, a crime carrying a penalty of as many as five years in prison. However, Smith could also be sentenced to probation, depending on his intent and activity while allegedly accessing a fellow Floridian's wireless network, officials said.
While some have described the case, which is set to begin with a pretrial hearing Monday, as an overkill reaction to an increasingly common activity, the supposed victim in the case expressed legitimate concern that his data was at risk and his connection might be used for illegal or illicit purposes.

Home Insecurity
Wireless experts said the case highlighted how insecure most home wireless networks are, as well as the significance of potential data loss, identity theft or getting your computer hijacked for malicious activity that can carry liability.
Ovum Vice President of Wireless Telecoms Roger Entner called the Florida case and others involving unauthorized wireless access of private hotspots "common theft."
"This is very similar to you walking down the street where a store has apples and oranges, and you grab one and keep going," Entner told TechNewsWorld.
The analyst indicated there appears to to be more and more unauthorized wireless access and charges against those who do it. Even if the Internet activity is simple browsing or e-mail, Entner said that it is still theft of bandwidth, which makes the price of bandwidth for everyone else go up.
"Just because it's happening, and I think it's happening frequently, doesn't make it right," he concluded.
Wireless Impersonators
Because a large number technology users do not secure their wireless hotspots, Entner added, they open themselves up to liability for the illegal actions of others.
"The other danger is that you can mimic, you can assume the digital identity of the person who owns the hotspot, and you can engage in a range of things, such as slandering or downloading child pornography. In the end, it's the person who has the hotspot who will get nailed for it," Entner said.
Entner advised wireless users to simply turn on whatever security their WiFi products provide. Doing so, he said, shows at least some effort to secure the network, thereby alleviating some of the users' liability. Anything is better than nothing, he indicated.
"Take the strongest encryption and go with it," the analyst said.
Victims or Vehicles for Theft?
Gartner vice president of mobile computing Ken Dulaney told TechNewsWorld there were differing opinions on the Florida and other wireless trespassing cases. One side argues that the issue is equivalent to burglary of an unlocked home, which is still theft; the other argument argues that wireless users are inviting the offense with a lack of security.
"I tend to think it's not an invasion of your home," Dulaney said. "You're sending something outside your house. If you don't secure it, shame on you."
Dulaney said the Florida case for Smith is "right up there with the McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) hot coffee suit."
The analyst added that he did not think such cases, even if they increase in number and prominence, will impact the wireless industry, indicating that vendors have done all they can so far. While securing hotspots is still a bit difficult, he said, it has become much easier in the past two years.



Wireless World: WiFi 'Vampires' Attack
by Gene J. Koprowski
Chicago (UPI) July 15, 2005
If a squatter moved in next door, and ran electrical extension cords from his living room to an outlet on your patio, you might object to his obvious pirating of your electricity - because his actions would be obvious.
Many computer criminals around the country likewise may be stealing, but in this case the commodity is broadband WiFi access. Because the thefts occur over invisible wireless networks, however, most victims do not know about it, experts told UPI's Wireless World.
"Having your WiFi signal stolen is a real risk today," said Janet Kumpu, president and chief executive officer of Fortress Technologies in Tampa, Fla., a networking software developer. "It's not just hackers who want to break into an e-mail account. They want to use your network for their own broadband connection."
A suspect was arrested recently in Florida allegedly for doing just that. Police arrested Benjamin Smith III, age 41, reportedly for accessing a computer network without authorization - a third-degree felony.
According to the police in St. Petersburg, Fla., the suspect was sitting in his SUV using a laptop computer outside the home of Richard Dinon.
This kind of thing, cyber-squatting, is more common than a casual observer may suspect, experts said.
"Years ago, before I had a clue how WiFi worked, and when I lived in a condo, my bandwidth was always dog slow," said Robert Siciliano, an ID theft expert and security consultant in Boston.
"Then my computer geek friend came over and discovered that my neighbor was running a peer-to-peer program - Kazaa - next door off of my wireless connection."
Sometimes, the piracy may be unintentional.
"Recently, I rented a vacation condo that included WiFi access," said Ted Demopoulos, an IT consultant and professional speaker in Durham, N.H. "There were two equally strong and wide open signals. Which one was I supposed to use?"
WiFi networks are generally set up in one of three ways, experts said. Sometimes, they may be visible and open - and require no password to access. They also may be visible and password protected, or may be hidden and password protected.
What makes things even more complicated is although most open networks are public, more and more suburbanites and urbanites are installing WiFi access in their homes, and paying a subscription fee for it. Because most people are not very literate technically, they may not know how to set up encryption or other security features.
"The hackers go there," said Wayne Burkan, vice president of marketing at Interlink Networks in Ann Arbor, Mich., a WiFi security company. "They know that the networks of companies are protected, but those of homeowners are not."
There are Internet sites for hackers such as wigle.net, which aggregate data for the computer criminals and let them know what networks in what neighborhoods may be vulnerable, Burkan said. "My guess is that 50-70 percent of networks are not protected."
Burkan said that the risks of hacking into a WiFi network are greater for consumers than those posed by hacking into a landline network. That is because the passwords and user names are transmitted wirelessly for particular accounts and therefore can be grabbed.
When someone acquires that information, "they can log into any Internet account as if they are you," Burkan said. "These people are information vampires - ready to suck the life out of you."
Some experts doubt whether criminal prosecution of any WiFi offenders will succeed, however.
Attorney Evan Barr, formerly the chief of the major crimes unit at the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, and now a lawyer with Steptoe & Johnson, said the courts long have held it is not illegal to intercept calls placed by users of cordless and mobile phones.
"That's because people who use these devices do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment," Barr said. "WiFi basically operates on the same principle as these devices, so it seems unlikely that a prosecution for stealing a WiFi signal could withstand judicial scrutiny."
Gene Koprowski is a 2005 Lilly Endowment Award Winner for his columns for United Press International. He covers networking and telecommunications for UPI Science News.
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