Unsecured wireless network

Posted on 2011-05-11
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
what would be the legal and ethical implications if I was use a unsercued wireless network without permission?
Question by:mc87
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    Expert Comment

    by:Jakob Digranes
    it's hard to pinpoint any legal threats - as laws are different i most countries.
    There's no law directly pinpointed at using unsecured wireless networks.

    When it comes to ethical - if this is a home user, you're just a cheating of his or hers bandwidth, which is not nice. If this is a company - (shame on the business!!), you can consider yourself somewhat trespassing ... But if it is a business; they might need that wake up call of users on their wireless.
    For home user - they wouldn't know better -- too bad.
    My advice - stay out, for being nice
    Stay out - for YOUR security !! all wireless traffic you send is unencrypted. Maybe the unsecured wireless is a honey pot for stealing your usernames and password? pop, ftp and some websites send username/password in clear text - easy to read for anyone ...

    so --- stay away
    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    Here in Switzerland the owner of the unsecured wireless AP is responsible. So if you connect to his unsecured connection you aren't at fault unless there is a disclaimer that shows up when you connect. Many Companies provide an unsecured wireless hotspot for visitors, but have a disclaimer pop up when you connect to it, which will only allow you to use it once you have agreed to it. That then makes you responsible...
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    Expert Comment

    In Sweden it is not against the law to use an unsecured network, since the air that contains the signals do not belong to anyone person it is the responsibility of the network ower to secure his network. However if you damage anything in the network you are ofcource responible for your actions just as all outher vandals are who break things in a public places.

    It is ALWAYS the owner of the internet connection who is responsible for what anyone uses the internet connection for. And if the owner can not prove that anyone else has used his network he is ofcource responible. I am shure that you signed an agreement with your ISP when you became a custemer with that company.
    LVL 20

    Expert Comment

    by:Jakob Digranes
    @tresss: You cannot be held responsible for any actions or harm done to a network on an unsecured wireless network. First of all, it's the owner of the network is responsible for securing it, and secondly - he's not able to trace or audit who did the wrongdoings on the network

    LVL 16

    Accepted Solution

    Ethically you could look at it like this:  

    The wireless access point is broadcasting a beacon into your space and sending electromagnetic radiation through your body.  So, in a sense, their network is tresspassing in YOU.  Also, iIf they were broadcasting sound waves instead of a radio waves you would have no choice but to listen to it.  Your computer is basically "listening" to the wireless network radio waves and also sending it own radio waves.
    LVL 16

    Expert Comment

    Something ethical may not be legal, for example physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in horrible pain.

    The US Justice Department has challenged Google to justify the fact that their mapping vans secretely created a map of unsecured WiFi networks across the nation and hinted this might be an illegal wiretap.  Meanwhile, the government's own use of warantless wiretaps is at an all-time high.  

    Ethical != Legal

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