Tuesday, March 28

Dvorak on Computer Crime

John C. Dvorak waxes philosophical (yet again) on the recent issues relating to DMCA protection and the use of unprotected Wi-Fi. I pretty much agree with what he has to say: ripping off movies and music digitally is punishable, but not to the extreme Hollywood would like to punish people, and Wi-Fi stealing is not theft of any kind.

Wireless routers should have detailed instructions for how to set up WPA encryption right in the manual (they probably already do, to some extent). If the owner of the router does not take the necessary steps to secure their access point, then it should be allowed to be freely available to the public. If you left your front door unlocked and somebody came in and took things while you were away, I don't think your homeowner's insurance should reimburse you for things you didn't take any measures to protect.

To hear Dvorak and others (including Leo Laporte and Patrick Norton) discuss these issues, listen to the latest This Week in Tech podcast: TWiT 47: Delayed.

(Column by PC Magazine: Oh, Those Crazy French!)


Harry J. Sachz said...

"hijacking" a wifi connection shouldn't be illegal to the point that you're not interfering with their home network or personal files... for the purpose of internet access, it’s the network owner's responsibility and ultimately it's their loss of bandwidth, as long as they're not intentionally providing internet access to all within wifi range...

with that said, my neighbor's wifi link has been unsecure for quite some time now and "a friend of mine" has ventured in their arena / changed their routers connection settings / and modified their username, password, and remote access ip #... not me of course, cuz that's "illegal" and morally WRONG... but they suck and deserve what they get :P

my question for you is:

[insert quote about homeowner's responsibility from blog here]

The difference here is that homeowners KNOW that their front door exists and (theoretically) that they have the only set of keys that can open it... They’re aware of the security measures necessary to keep their family safe…

When people introduce new technology into their homes, they aren’t exactly experts like you or me... So, who's resposibility is it to let them know that their new hardware isn't secure right out of the box? Surely the guy wearing the blue vest at Best Buy didn't explain it to them, not at $6.75 an hour at least... Is it my... *cough* my friend’s responsibility?

I like unsecure wifi connections… It will eventually give me an alibi when I eventually stand in court...

Brad said...

Ah yes... but if a homeowner buys a new door, it comes with an installation and operations manual. If they don't know how to install it and its lock on their own, they hire a contractor to do it for them and then explain its operation.

Why do people think that installing technology is any easier than refurbishing their home? Just because it comes in a smaller box and because it's not physically vulnerable to outside forces doesn't mean that it's completely different.

(By the way, I'm totally making this argument up as I go. Don't hold me to it later.)

Harry J. Sachz said...

i have a bunch of doors... no manual... must have got jipped... plus i had to have my fiance explain that it's turn THEN pull... those contractors think they're so smart... snarf!

Brad said...

Yes, but the reason that sounds so silly is that you have had plenty of experience with doors in the past. If someone were to buy a router with which they had no prior experience, they should by no means think that they have properly configured it after merely hooking it up to the wall. If they were to buy one of those new door locks with RFID entry, you can bet they wouldn't just "set it and forget it." It would be common sense to research how to keep it secure. A wireless router is no different.

Harry J. Sachz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Harry J. Sachz said...

[sorry, found an annoying gramatical error]

well, i guess you could also go the other way with this argument as well... say i run internet explorer, update my windows with automatic updates, keep my anti-virus and spyware updated, and run a hardware firewall... now say that some 15 year old in sweden uses a previously unpatched M$ exploit to gain control of my computer, my internet access, and free roam on all my files... does the fact that i'm unaware on how to secure my computer 100% entitle him to free (read: my) internet / network access?

plus there's plenty of things that come "right out of the box" that i expect to work completely perfect after purchase (minus routine maintenance stuff)... my car, my house, my air conditioner, my fridge, my shoes, etc... i wouldn't have spent so much money on them otherwise...

speakin of which, my air conditioner isn't completely secure.. does that mean my neighbor can come over and hook a pipe up to the output and (steal) free access my cold air?...

ha.. arguing is fun... just tell me to shut up and i'll let you move onto another topic... :P

Brad said...

say i run internet explorer...

Well, there's your first problem.

If the sweden kid messes around with your files, that's vandalism related to property. And obviously he can't be utilizing your bandwidth to achieve a connecion to the Internet, since he already used the Internet to get to you.

But at this point I'm grasping at straws... I just don't really care anymore. :) I think we both get each others' points-- even if you actually believe what you're saying and not just playing devil's advocate. These issues are why people like the guys at Symantec still have a job.

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