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  • The legalities of wardriving.

    This is because the WIFI FAQ is no place to discuss peoples opinions and analogies on the topic.

    Enforcer sez:

    It's now daytime, I am walking down a different street, it's summer and people have their windows open, up ahead I spot a public bench, I decide that I will sit down and take a rest. It just so happens that one of the nearby houses has music playing, not sure if it's the radio and a CD player, but I like the music and decide to stay a bit longer and listen to it. - Am I breaking the law?
    To start with, here is my opinion:
    Your argument is hazy because the type of information being broadcast (music) is generally considered to be not confidental. Lets say you changed that situation around and were walking around and happened to overhear someone reading off their credit card number. Listening in and copying down that number would certainly be illegal. Just because something is being broadcast does not mean you have a right to listen in.

    But wifi is not a broadcast service. You not only recieve, but also transmit information back to the router (giving it commands). This makes the analogy invalid IMO.

    Many people argue that because the wifi is not password protected, that means that it is avaliable for the public to use. Lets compare it to a house:

    Lets say you are walking around and notice someone left their front door unlocked to their house. Now their house is unsecure. Does that mean that you can simply walk in and use their POTS (plain old telephone service) phone mounted on their kitchen wall? No. It doesn't matter if the person didn't put in place adaquate security (locking their door), you still aren't allowed to use it. Similarly, you aren't allowed to use internet service that isn't yours even if it is unsecure.

    Don't get me wrong, I love wifi and would probably use an open access point. But I can't find any good argument on how doing so is legal
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  • #2
    i dont beleive its legal exactly. and morally its probably not right anyhow. but that doesnt mean it wont continue to happen. im sure theres loopholes with it in the law with alot of other things that occur on the internet that will allow people to continue to do it.

    BTW. even secure networks arent secure.. if your running wireless even with encryption your not safe. hell actually mac addresses arent entirely safe since they can be cloned. but thats a little harder to do then break an encryption key. think im ****tying you? google "airsnort" thats the software that allows an encryption key to be decrypted just by testing packets. i never use encyption keys but filter by MAC.
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    • #3
      Thats true, wifi is not completely secure... but neither is my house thats locked. If somebody wants to destructively do something they can... there really isn't much thats perfectly secure these days. The difference is between breaking and entering and entering... I certainly am no law buff, but I would imagine that if somebody just walked into your house with a door open you could probably have them arrested, but most likely they would have to refuse to leave before you could... however, if they broke and entered then they are arrested immediately.

      Wifi is a tough subject. Open access to me is open access. If you don't want somebody using it either lower its broadcast power to limit it to your property only, or secure it which basically all devices have the ability to do.

      This forum will most likely turn into a vast pool of conflicting arguments of opinion(lol, cause I just gave mine). I think that if people want an answer to this question, talk to the fcc in America or applicable agencies in other nations.

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      • #4
        I don't think any body is raising any big stink about there connection being used, but, it is NOT legal to connect to somebody elses connection. No matter what...... BUT... try to catch the person that is doing it. Connecting to somebody elses network is a form of hacking. Wether you hacked it or not. But in my opinion like most, if you don't want me on it, then secure it. Like it was said, nothing is secure but if you encrypt it then that means stay out. If you don't then that means welcome and enjoy the free service. Right??
        Peese

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        • #5
          look at it this way: just because i have a cordless phone, and you have a scanner... does that give you the right to listen in on my conversations?
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          • #6
            Originally posted by tj!2k4
            look at it this way: just because i have a cordless phone, and you have a scanner... does that give you the right to listen in on my conversations?
            Many people using wifi points do not 'listen in' to other peoples data, they just check their email, maybe download traffic + weather reports, then move on.

            If you secure your Wifi point with simple 64bit it is implied security. I would not bother to wait around and crack it, I would simply drive 10 meters to the next access point!

            You analogy has no point, i am not interested in your network traffic (phone call), i'm interested in using your phone for a few seconds.

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            • #7
              Theft of service.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by konnichiwa
                i am not interested in your network traffic (phone call), i'm interested in using your phone for a few seconds.
                which is equally criminal.

                And, by the way, you have strayed off-topic. We are talking about wardriving here, to which my phone analogy is closer fit than your theft of services.

                Wardriving is searching for wireless networks by moving. It involves using a car or truck and a Wi-Fi-equipped computer, such as a laptop or a PDA, to detect the networks. It was also known (as of 2002) as "WiLDing" (Wireless Lan Driving, although this term never gained any popularity and is no longer used), originating in the San Francisco Bay Area with the Bay Area Wireless Users Group (BAWUG). It is similar to using a scanner for radio.
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                • #9
                  if you lend someone your car, is it illegal?
                  if someone borrows your car, is it illegal?

                  I think that using someone's service is only legal if you have permission.

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                  • #10
                    Hmm. nice to be quoted and not informed about it.

                    Thanks PURDooM



                    Secondly, this thread so far has had nothing to do with legalities of wardriving, but the legalities of connecting to unsecure wireless networks.

                    Wardriving is the location of wireless access points, not the actual connecting to.


                    Thirdly, yes my argument is hazy, as were the other two sceanarios I had in that post, because the whole thing is hazy.

                    And as for your unlocked house, that is something totally different to what I was saying, because with that you are actually trespassing on somebody else's property.

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                    • #11
                      I don't think Wardriving in and out of itself is really illegal. Let's think of what you're doing.

                      You're walking around with a computer, or driving around, and making a log of the signals you're picking up.

                      This, to me, is the same as walking around and marking down the color of each house or building you walk past, and including the address of that house (say if you're logging GPS coordinates for the WiFi)

                      You're simply making a log of what's in the air. It's out there, there's nothing wrong with that. You can even listen to satellite signals legally, as long as you don't break the encryption. (If it's an encrypted signal)

                      Now.. if you ACCESS the networks that you find, THAT, is where you become illegal. Theft of service.

                      Just because you're noting what service is where, doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. It doesn't really analogize with the 'Using a scanner to listen in to conversations' because you're not 'listening in' on sessions that're occuring on those people's access points.

                      At least that's my opinion.

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                      • #12
                        Just because your all tight bastards that dont want people using their wireless internet, doesnt mean everyone is like that.

                        Are you gonna miss a few mb traffic?

                        Who cares? Just do it, your not gonna get caught.

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                        • #13
                          RE: tight bastards: I've shared my AP access info with trusted friends and neighbors w/o any mention of compensation. No, I won't miss a few MB's of traffic.. but I wouldn't miss the TVshows you could watch if you stepped into my home and sat on the couch w/ the remote. but damn sure.. ain' gona let that happen w/o a response.

                          RE: not gona get caught: http://digg.com/security/Illinois_Ma...or_War_Driving

                          RE: Who cares: I do .. but then.. I've encrypted my network so I'll likely never have to sweat folks borrowing a few mb's.
                          •Micke

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                          • #14
                            Y'know..the topic is 'Legalities of Wardriving'

                            NOT

                            'Legalities of using the APs that you find while Wardriving'

                            At least so I thought. The whole thing still seems to be some sort of proof of concept issue. I don't want people attaching to my network, so I encrypt it and make it as secure as I can (which will only keep random people out, not people really trying to get in, I know)

                            Hopping on an AP to check email or do a few minor browser things is one thing, but what about all-out abuse of that connection? Settling nearby and doing massive downloads just for the bandwidth? There's no way to say the one use is any better than the other in terms of legalities.

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                            • #15
                              One of the legal issues of wardriving involves how you use the information you gathered. The data in question usually leads to connecting to and using someones network that you found. I bet you couldn't find any other usefull application for collecting the locations of AP's if you weren't going to use them

                              With that being said, I think accessing networks found from wardriving is valid topic involing "the legalities of wardriving". This thread isn't to debate usage of a word, its to discuss ethical and legal responsibilities of obtaining wireless internet through wifi for our cars. Is there a better term than wardriving to describe "detection and unauthorized use of unsecured access points for non-malicious purposes"? Yeah, I can't think of one. So please quit *****ing about grammer kthx.

                              Sorry enforcer.

                              Nobody cares argument:
                              I invited my friend over to use my cable over my wifi, and my neighbor came out and chased him down with his car, accusing him of stealing credit card numbers and 'violating fcc regulations'. He then called the cops and later I was called in to make a statment that I allowed my friend to use my internet (rather than my neighbors). The cop then asked "if I knew anyone else who did any wardriving".

                              People do care...
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