Thursday, January 19, 2006

Wireless networks are all around me

I got home this evening, opened my laptop, and instead of connecting to my home wireless network, Access Connections roamed me onto another network. I was pretty surprised that there was an unsecured wireless network in the vicinity. I live in a small block of flats. Scanning for networks, I discovered four others, two of which had public names, and one of those had encryption disabled and no security. Not only that, but the router had no password enabled. Clearly I didn't do anything to harm the network, instead I quickly got Access Connections to connect to my own network (no name advertised - check; high encryption - check; secure - check; strong passwords set - check).

I'm now in a bit of a quandary as to how to proceed. People tend to come and go around here, I don't know everyone in the block, and I don't know who this network belongs to - the network name doesn't give anything away. Do I put up a sign on the noticeboard to tell people to check their wireless security? - surely that's alerting anyone who walks through the hallway that there is bandwidth waiting to be grabbed. Do I knock on the front door of every flat asking if they have a wireless network that I can help them to configure? Or just leave it?


LeeChee said...

I would be very tempted to just leave it. Concentrate on the security of your own network - ensuring you're using WPA instead of WEP for example. And all the other stuff you probably know a lot more about than me!!!

I guess it depends on how much you trust people you don't know. If you'd known your wireless whore for years, then help him/her out. If not, then be wary. Why help a paedophile set up a photo-sharing network? I know this is an extreme example, but if you go knocking on doors you don't know what you'll find.

Maybe it's a sign of the times, but I just tend to be wary. Having said that, I recently returned a mobile phone I found on a train to its owner and she sent me £20 worth of HMV vouchers, which was superb :)

Granted, there's a lot of good human nature out there. Unfortunately it's not as easy to find as an unsecured wireless network...

Andy Piper said...

Good thoughts. I'm possibly too trusting in general. I'm keen to be helpful to others, but I guess there are times when it is good to be cautious. On the other hand, if I can make some HMV vouchers out of my generosity, maybe I should go for it. It wasn't my sister-in-law's mobile you found, was it? She lost hers recently.

Bill said...

It's funny, I've seen enough comments about people keeping their routers open on purpose. Kind of a "fight the man" concept of free Internet everywhere.

Of course we all know the security implications of keeping a router completely open, so this becomes the trade-off.

What is the point of my comment? I'm merely suggesting the fact security isn't enabled may be intentional. If you want an anonymous way to clue in the user:

Posted on the inside of the door in Andy's building:
"Dear router users:

Do you know you may be running a router that opens up your network to hackers? I know because I've seen it.

To protect yourself, do the following....

-A concerned netizen from your building"