On Wardriving, Security and Ethics 802.11g
The person whose Wi-Fi signal I used to leech moved out last week. I'm not sure who he was - not even sure that he was a he - but the signal is gone, so it's time to make other arrangements.
I could pay Charter Cable's $50 setup fee and then $20/month for internet access, but it rankles to spend money on a service that I've been enjoying free-of-charge for almost three years.
A better option for me is the Super Cantenna. At $40 with shipping, it looks like a Pringles can on a tiny tripod. Connect it to a wireless router, flashed and configured in a particular way, and it rebroadcasts signals pulled from a considerable distance ... up to a mile, by some estimates. Odds are that a few of the signals it finds will be non-password-protected and those are the ones that I'll use to get online when my compatible router (okay, another $40) arrives.
Such is the plan, anyway.
The safety-net (not)
You might be wondering whether I'm worried about security. Short answer: no. Long answer: Security is every bit as illusory online as it is in real life. Maybe moreso. And that goes double for privacy. Consider this ...
The term for cruising an area in search of Wi-Fi signal is "wardriving."
Google "wardriving" and you'll find plenty of sites openly devoted to the science of breaking and entering password-protected Wi-Fi networks. Some of them do this in the name of addressing network vulnerability issues, but their how-to videos leave me with little doubt that the sites' owners are more interested in gaining access than in preventing it. There's even retail software available - programs like WEPcrack and coWPAtty - designed specifically to crack (I mean ... um ... verify the strength of) network passwords.
As you might expect, other sites offer tips and tricks for making the leech's life less care-free, but they don't inspire much confidence. One such site suggests guarding your home network with an "upside-down-ternet" that's supposed to confound intruders. I'm not sure how it works, and I won't condemn it for sounding like a Tupperware party refreshment, but I doubt that it's as effective as common sense.Continued on the next page