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Steal This Wi-Fi

By Kristopher A. Nelson in

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Wired Security Matters – Steal This Wi-Fi:

Whenever I talk or write about my own security setup, the one thing that surprises people — and attracts the most criticism — is the fact that I run an open wireless network at home. There’s no password. There’s no encryption. Anyone with wireless capability who can see my network can use it to access the internet.

I spoke to several lawyers about this, and in their lawyerly way they outlined several other risks with leaving your network open.

While none thought you could be successfully prosecuted just because someone else used your network to commit a crime, any investigation could be time-consuming and expensive. You might have your computer equipment seized, and if you have any contraband of your own on your machine, it could be a delicate situation. Also, prosecutors aren’t always the most technically savvy bunch, and you might end up being charged despite your innocence. The lawyers I spoke with say most defense attorneys will advise you to reach a plea agreement rather than risk going to trial on child-pornography charges.

Personally, I don’t advocate this, but I do provide a Meraki-run SF “Free the Net” node that goes through my home Internet connection. It’s firewalled off from my main internal network, and it’s got QoS inflicted on it to avoid having neighbors using all my (limited…) cable bandwidth, but I too see providing some amount of wireless connectivity as a public good, and neighborly.