What can happen if I hijack a wireless connection?
September 2, 2004 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Ethical considerations aside, are there any issues I should be concerned with if I were to use my neighbor's wireless internet without his explicit permission? Say, my computer getting hacked, my passwords being intercepted, my email being read, my browsing history being revealed, etc etc.
posted by TheIrreverend to Technology (9 answers total)
All of the above.
posted by Galvatron at 8:02 PM on September 2, 2004

Watch out for a broken nose, mate.

There's no particular technical difference going online via a wireless network or an ISP. You'll need a firewall, with windows you'll need regular updates, etc. Like an ISP, you're going via a computer you don't have control of and they're probably logging urls, so they'll almost certainly get your browsing history.

It seems that it's mostly about your neighbour's computer, unlike an ISP, not having to behave ethically. If they were to airpwn you and begin replacing downloads of .exes with a virus, or changing time clock randomly, then you'd deserve it. You're as safe as they are dumb.

Tunnel your connection through them and you'll probably be ok though.
posted by holloway at 8:12 PM on September 2, 2004

Tunnel? I am not sure I understand....
posted by TheIrreverend at 8:44 PM on September 2, 2004

You might want to read this.
posted by caddis at 9:08 PM on September 2, 2004

Tunnel... like a VPN or something. You'll need to be connecting to somewhere though.

(there may be technical differences between a tunnel and a vpn, maybe I got my terms wrong)
posted by holloway at 9:22 PM on September 2, 2004

You're sending your network traffic through some stranger's house. Um, yeah, you're just a little vulnerable to malicious activity on the part of the stranger. This is why people pay ISPs: they're somewhat less likely than Dude With A Linksys to act in a destructive manner towards paying customers sitting on their network, and at the very least, accountable to it if they are.

Thou shalt encrypt. Thou shalt tunnel. Thou shalt not trust thy intermediate transport.

Unfortunately, this is one of those questions where if you have to ask it, you probably don't yet have enough information to mitigate the risk.
posted by majick at 10:52 PM on September 2, 2004

hot spot vpn is a cheap consumer-friendly way to secure your wireless communication. I use it whenever I travel outside my home, but I find that about half the time, the stupid network admins filter and block vpn packets.
posted by mathowie at 11:47 PM on September 2, 2004

"Dude With A Linksys" - nice.
posted by Hankins at 5:29 AM on September 3, 2004

Use a firewall, zonealarm is not bad, disable windows file sharing, use a long password on your account and the administrator accounts. If they've got an open wireless, they're most likely to be lacking in mad hax0r skillz. There might be some Evil Dude With A Linksys looking to trap and hurt unsuspecting freeloaders. You Have Been Warned.

Many (Most?) Wireless Access Points have an embedded, albeit weak, firewall, so it's only Dude With A Linksys and anybody else downstream of the WAP you have to be careful of.

Don't be an ass. Try not to badly abuse the bandwidth, i.e., no downloading movies at 7 p.m. , nothing grossly illegal.

I'm counting on my unprotected wireless to protect me from RIAA. Anybody could be downloading those .mp3s through my unsecured Wireless Access Point.

Try to find the person, and come to an agreement.
posted by theora55 at 9:44 AM on September 3, 2004

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