Is stealing WiFi ethically sound?Mikey 15 comments
Wifi in the office and home is so common now it's common to open up your laptop and find several available connections in your general vicinity. And occasionally you will find someone neglected to secure the network, making them a target for leechers and increasing the chance of an excessive bandwidth bill from their ISP.
Is it OK to leech some else's WiFi connection? Every self respecting geek has done it at one stage or another. A lot of people believe in the "if it's not secured, it's open game" philosophy, but isn't that the same as saying it's OK to take someone's car because they forgot to lock the doors?
So you decided to leech from your neighbour's unsecured WiFi connection anyway, huh? What harm can it do? Lets have a look at a possible outcomes.
You surf, download and upload on your neighbours open WiFi connection:
1) Meanwhile your neighbour can't figure out why he is getting inconsistent speeds and slow downloads. He complains to his ISP but eventually dumps them and goes through the hassle of joining another.
2) The end of the month rolls by and your neighbour receives an excessive bandwidth bill to sum of hundreds of dollars, all because you exceeded his monthly cap when you downloaded season 3 of Battlestar Galactica.
3) Your neighbour is doing some important work and needs his fast connection, but unfortunately has been shaped to dial-up speeds because you made him go over his monthly cap.
4) Your neighbour's router only allows 4 connections, and you have hooked onto the last. Now his daughter can't get on-line with her computer to research her school project.
There are instances where a WiFi connection has been deliberately left open, like in a cafe for example, so getting on-line is a painless process for their patrons. It's the age old "free WiFi to paying customers" honour system, but there is no way to police it.
So next time you see that unsecured WiFi network, and you think you know the source, perhaps alert them to the vulnerability and ask permission. You might even sleep better!