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Old 02.10.2006, 08:57
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Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

There is another way of accessing the internet. A 'friend' of mine lives in a built-up neighbourhood and is more than happy to utilise the WiFi connections ...quite a few people have open/unsecured networks ...not sure on the legality of this , but it works!

(My 'friend' manages to remain a polite piggybacker, no big downloads etc. but is a little concerned about privacy ...ha ha, cheeky, I know, but the parasite/piggybacker has a right to privacy too, surely? )
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Old 02.10.2006, 10:00
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Re: Internet question [internet without phone or TV]

Uncle Max, your friend is very lucky - but this is a perfectly accessible way to access the internet. If the network is fully open and unsecured then you shouldn't feel guilty about using it. Many companies and even private individuals leave their hotspots open as a public service - after all, there is plenty of bandwidth - why not donate some to passers-by or neighbours so that they can use it too?

In many big cities there are maps and websites for people to register their free hotspots - allowing others to see where they might get free access.

About your friend's security concerns. His potential threats comes from two sources. 1. The other neighbours - will they be setting up sniffer software to try and sniff your email password (POP passwords go out in plain text to the network), or 2. Someone who hangs around the building at random trying to sniff passwords.

Often, passwords submitted to websites are encrypted before they go to the network, so stuff like internet banking (if using two factor authentication) won't be a problem, the biggest risk will be your email password. That said, nobody will really be interested enough to try and get your email password. The exception would be if someone specifically wanted your password (say, you made an enemy or a case of industrial espionage) then they could find out where you live and get a laptop within range to sniff it.

The other thing you should make sure of (and anyone who has an open hotspot) is that there are no open shares running on the machine - since these will be open to the public. Turn them off entirely, or just have a couple with "public files" that aren't private. You can turn on the firewall in windows if you want to have a false sense of security, though the only thing it might do is defend you from a sophisticated attack from a neighbour or passer by.

But you have raised an excellent point - many people never check to see whether there is the possibility to piggy back from the neighbour's connection before they go ahead and order their own service. The best solution is if all the residents in a building club together and order a SINGLE internet connection and share it through the same building. This would usually involve people talking to each other and a sense of co-operation however

Another question may be what do I do about the phone connection if I am piggy backing on another's internet connection? Easy - you still don't need your Swisscom line - simply buy a little appliance which connects a normal phone to a VOIP provider over the internet and you have a "landline" for between 0 and 2.50 francs per month. Sweet.
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Old 02.10.2006, 10:07
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

Uncle Max - I clipped your post from the previous thread and gave it its own thread. I thought it was a worthy enough discussion to have in its own right.
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Old 02.10.2006, 10:15
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

It is quite amazing the number of Wifis you can find which are unsecured... I personally have an unsecured Wifi at my studio. I believe its a great customer service There is also one available at the "Rondelle" Cafe in the center for Bellevue, Zurich for those of you who like to "piggyback"
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Old 02.10.2006, 10:40
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

For the *nix admins amongst the readership...
http://www.ex-parrot.com/~pete/upside-down-ternet.html [Geek revenge on wifi freeloaders]

My wifi is heavily locked down... no free rides here...
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Old 02.10.2006, 11:26
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

Quote:
My wifi is heavily locked down... no free rides here...
Yeah, quite right too, next thing you know they'll be wanting to download music, movies and TV shows without paying for them. Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile. Flog 'em all!
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Old 02.10.2006, 11:33
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

My mate has a choice of no less than four wireless connections to connect to. The router passwords are all still defaults and my mate has been kind enough not to lock the owners out of their own routers.

I have my own internet account, so I would never have to resort to catching a free ride.
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Old 02.10.2006, 11:40
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

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I have my own internet account, so I would never have to resort to catching a free ride.
My very handsome and charming 'Friend' also has his own connection, but it's kind of a fuzzy area: is it illegal? Is it a 'free-ride'? And if - as with most people - the WiFi access is used for low-level stuff, is the neighbour any worse off? For example, the stairwell in my, er, my Friends building has all sorts of cupboards and shoestands outside each door. Seeing as my cool Pal pays rent to include use of the stairwell, is he being denied full capacity of his stairwell? Should he feel cheated that he can't use every square metre of space, although it's not interfering?

(Home taping is killing music...they said)
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Old 02.10.2006, 12:38
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

If i leave a cardboard box outside and in the morning I find a freezing street urchin sleeping in it, has he done something wrong?

There is no legislation against using a wifi signal that is not locked down. You are free to walk around with a pringles tube and some tin-foil as an amplifier and use any connection that is available to you. What you are not doing is forcing entry into a system that is not yours, it is not hacking, open wifi cannot be hacked, it's there for the taking, airports, star*ucks, trainstations and neighbours.

For all your mate knows they might actually welcome his presence on their network, maybe if they knew where he lived they might explicitly invite him onboard. They might be hippy sun children trying to enlighten everyone by dispensing free wifi.
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Old 02.10.2006, 12:46
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

Probably. As far as my friend is concerned, though, he's considering cancelling his internet connection agreement with the provider and just piggybacking. I guess this would mean being at the mercy of the neighbour discovering and objecting to the piggyback. But as long as it lasts... it's CHF45 a month not given to the BBC Prime snatching Cablecom (could we just have a TopGear channel in lieu?)
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Old 02.10.2006, 12:51
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

My mate was thinking exactly the same thing. He piggybacked for a month before he got his own connection. After monitoring the availble networks for uptime, the results were good enough to consider terminating his Cablecom account, but he does use a lot of bandwidth, so...
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Old 02.10.2006, 14:51
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

Ït's an interesting question - I know there is a group/website on the web in the US where people register their WiFi so people can surf for free almost anywhere. I think it could work, but those who participate need to be aware of the dangers.

I can understand if you only surf the web, then you probably have loads of free bandwidth, and then feel free to open your gateway. But if someone passes by who knows what they are doing, hacking into the average person's computer is all the easier for an open WiFi connection. Most WiFi owners have no idea 1) how to secure it 2) what a hacker with malice can do. (which of course they can do via the web too, without WiFi)

There is a guy at work here who was arrested early this year because someone scammed his mobile details and then got a prepay in his name and sold drugs using it. The police then caught a buyer of said drugs, got his contact number and tracked it back to the guy at work, who was obviously innocent. Many hours later, after taking him to a cell in ZH and searching his place, they realised it was probably a mistake - Moral of the story: there are scum bags on the street, even in CH, who will search your rubbish bags for personal details and use them to their advantage (your extreme disadvantage). Opening your WiFi opens another channel for this pursuit in my eyes.

Call me paranoid, but before meeting this guy at work, I thought CH was not into this kinda "identity theft" so much as say the US. I am now a wee bit more careful.
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Old 02.10.2006, 14:55
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

In the Netherlands this practice is illegal. Last week a guy was arrested for picking up a signal because he wanted to get some GPS coordinates.

The reasoning of the police was akin this; if you leave the door of your house open, it does not mean people should go in and use your stuff.

Basically, the police also decided that the fact that some computers automatically connect to the neighbours' network because it is strongest, is no excuse. Thus, even for people who are not aware that they are hooking up to someone else's network instead of their own, the act is regarded as an offense.

So people who are willingly piggybacking are considered thieves; that is the bottom line in the Netherlands. When thinking about it, it makes sense. I am not talking about that company that asks people to make their wifi available so as to create a global network; from memory you need to sign up to that so you have login names etc.; I am talking about open wifi that people have not protected. I think using that person's network is morally wrong. Get your own one if you want internet that bad.

The fact that some people allow others on purpose complicates matters because you cannot see from your end whether they allowed it on purpose or not. Thus, best not to use it until someone comes up with a technical solution...
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Old 02.10.2006, 15:04
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

I'm not sure it's an entirely moral issue, although I do accept your perspective, re. leaving doors open, etc.

If I walked down the street and saw an undamaged apple lying on the ground, under somebody's apple tree, and there's no obvious sign asking people not to take any apples from the tree, would it be 'wrong' to take the apple?

I feel it's a matter of courtesy not to completely wreck the neighbours tree in pursuit of apples, but the 'odd' windfall is there to be enjoyed... or is it?
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Old 02.10.2006, 15:54
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

Quote:
In the Netherlands this practice is illegal. Last week a guy was arrested for picking up a signal because he wanted to get some GPS coordinates.
How did they identify the culprit? Did they get a warrant to come in and check his mac address?
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Old 02.10.2006, 16:59
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

I think the unsecured WiFi hotspots are a source of trouble themselves.
The providers of these could be intentional sniffers or they are low-tech users.
However it is stealing, no matter how you see it, unless you contact the neighbour and tell him you are using it.

Same as a bicycle parked in the garage. It is unlocked, it does not mean all neighbours can ride it. They can, physically, but they should eventually inform the owner, or even ask the owner BEFORE riding it.

There are many other technical and security reasons why I will refrain from using a "free" wifi, in the neighbourhood. Locking up the wifi is as easy as 1-2-3, provided people take some time to read. If they can set up the wifi in the first place, they can set up WEP.

If it is Starbucks or Macdonalds, who put up signs that they provide WiFi, that is a totally different story.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02.10.2006, 17:16
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

Quote:

How did they identify the culprit? Did they get a warrant to come in and check his mac address?
He was sitting in a van, as he was doing something called 'geocoaching' which is a kind of treasure hunting. The neighbours reported the van as suspicious and the police came to check it out. http://tweakers.net/nieuws/44510/Mee...-illegaal.html for a discussion on the legality of this..
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Old 02.10.2006, 18:00
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

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If I walked down the street and saw an undamaged apple lying on the ground, under somebody's apple tree, and there's no obvious sign asking people not to take any apples from the tree, would it be 'wrong' to take the apple?
This analogy doesn't follow, in my opinion, because people are paying for their connection. Therefore piggybackers are (presumably) doing this (without the network owners permission) in order to avoid paying for the same service themselves. My own ethical code would not allow me to do it. To each their own. HAT is right though - doesn't take but a few minutes to tweak some settings to make the network secure).
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Old 02.10.2006, 22:37
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

Quote:
This analogy doesn't follow, in my opinion, because people are paying for their connection. Therefore piggybackers are (presumably) doing this (without the network owners permission) in order to avoid paying for the same service themselves. My own ethical code would not allow me to do it. To each their own.
I believe the analogy does stand: the owner of the tree has paid for the tree and therefore can expect to yield the fruit. However, unless there's a dedicated sign or fence declaring the territorial boundary, I'm sure most tree owners wouldn't mind the odd scrumpied apple, but would mind if the harvest was noticably lacking...

But this is splitting hairs, right? I wouldn't really mind if my stairwell was furnished with the odd shoe rack or hat stand, and I feel it comes down to whether you feel cheated or impinged upon by this reduction of floor space/a few less apples from an abundant tree/piggybacked internet connection (But I wouldn't download stuff without paying for it. Hmm...)
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Old 02.10.2006, 22:49
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Re: Getting FREE internet access - using a neighbour's connection

Umm, ok, lets talk apples. I think what you are describing is more akin to taking a bushel of apples every month from the tree, not picking up the odd apple from the ground. Each of us has to decide how valuable our privacy is to us. Obviously to your 'friend', privacy is not worth the price of having his own secure connection. His choice, his risk.

But as I said earlier, to each their own. Everyone has their own standards. We all have to live with our own consciences and look at ourselves in the mirror at the end of the day.
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