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  1. #1

    [Morality] - Tech friend struggling to assist neighbor with unsecured wifi

    Hello,

    One of my high school friends works in the IT department of FedEx. At home, he uses his smartphone with WPA2 encryption to create a wireless hotspot for his devices. Lately, one of the AT&T towers near him had intermittent issues and fell upon an unsecured wireless network. While not doing anything personal on it except for looking at the weather, he was able to run ipconfig/all to find out the IP address of the router. He looked online and noticed that the default admin account and password were UNCHANGED.

    He now thinks he may get in trouble because of his actions, but I told him not necessarily, because now he can possibly alert his neighbor (I don't know how) that keeping your wireless network unsecured could attract many leeches and essentially steal something they haven't paid for, but he is also afraid that he may be in trouble for bringing it up. What should he do? He hasn't been himself today.. way too quiet, and scared for what could happen as a result of his findings. I want to console him but I don't know how.

    Tips?

  2. #2
    Simply have him tell his neighbor that he accidentally discovered his unsecured network, and to show him how to secure it. His neighbor will probably appreciate the help (unless he's one of the "get off my porch!!!" crazies with a shotgun).

    If the neighbor has doubts or doesn't care then tell him that someone could use it to download child porn and the police may track it down to HIM. That should get his attention.

  3. #3
    Stood in the Fire
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    Laws very state to state but most states put the responsibility of unsecured wifi on the owner of the wifi, it is their responsibility to secure it.
    One thing I've done in the past is if i see an unsecured wifi with defaults is i change the SSID to "ThanksForTheFreeInterWeb" or something similar.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by munchkin View Post
    Hello,

    One of my high school friends works in the IT department of FedEx. At home, he uses his smartphone with WPA2 encryption to create a wireless hotspot for his devices. Lately, one of the AT&T towers near him had intermittent issues and fell upon an unsecured wireless network. While not doing anything personal on it except for looking at the weather, he was able to run ipconfig/all to find out the IP address of the router. He looked online and noticed that the default admin account and password were UNCHANGED.

    He now thinks he may get in trouble because of his actions, but I told him not necessarily, because now he can possibly alert his neighbor (I don't know how) that keeping your wireless network unsecured could attract many leeches and essentially steal something they haven't paid for, but he is also afraid that he may be in trouble for bringing it up. What should he do? He hasn't been himself today.. way too quiet, and scared for what could happen as a result of his findings. I want to console him but I don't know how.

    Tips?
    Did he actually change any settings on the router? If not I see no reason to worry. Anyone that is too lazy or does not have enough knowledge to secure the wireless will have no idea he was ever connected. This happens constantly in Apartment complexes. It sounds like he fell upon it on accident and even then used it sparsely. For me its not an issue at all. Just got back on his normal network and don't worry about it.

  5. #5
    No settings were actually changed - he wanted to be proactive and leave the same SSID on but with wireless encryption on it then knock on the neighbors door and/or call her to let her know what's been going on. He had been monitoring the "Attached Devices" and noticed between 7 and 15 devices connected during evening times.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by munchkin View Post
    No settings were actually changed - he wanted to be proactive and leave the same SSID on but with wireless encryption on it then knock on the neighbors door and/or call her to let her know what's been going on. He had been monitoring the "Attached Devices" and noticed between 7 and 15 devices connected during evening times.
    Ha, then if he wants to be nice he can bring it up to them. Just show them the list and explain it. No way they would be upset about it, especially when they see how many ppl they have stealing the bandwidth from them on a regular basis. Just help them change the settings while they watch so they can see what is happening and can choose a passkey.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by WarFalcon1 View Post
    Ha, then if he wants to be nice he can bring it up to them. Just show them the list and explain it. No way they would be upset about it, especially when they see how many ppl they have stealing the bandwidth from them on a regular basis. Just help them change the settings while they watch so they can see what is happening and can choose a passkey.
    Ok, I guess he was concerned that because he logged into the router (which he doesnt own) and started monitoring things on the network (which he doesn't own), regardless of how "white knightish" he may be and his intentions, he didn't know if "illegal" access to help a neighbor could get him in trouble; that is why he started freaking out.

  8. #8
    High Overlord Daskapital's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by munchkin View Post
    Ok, I guess he was concerned that because he logged into the router (which he doesnt own) and started monitoring things on the network (which he doesn't own), regardless of how "white knightish" he may be and his intentions, he didn't know if "illegal" access to help a neighbor could get him in trouble; that is why he started freaking out.
    Giving a friendly tip is "white knighting"? Honestly, maybe the laws are really weird in the US, but what exactly is he worried might happen? Did he have to snoop through the neighbours personal documents to realize whose unsecured router it was? If that's the case, he probably wants to not mention it. But if the router was named something like "MikesdownstairsneighbourJohn" or something that obviously identifies who owns it, then theres nothing wrong with giving the guy/girl a friendly heads up

  9. #9
    The Lightbringer
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    Generally an open WiFi connection falls on the owner.

    If they do have a username and password set, even if it is the OEM one, and you accessed their internal network, you are at fault.

    Best bet is to stop by and mention it to them. You could assist them in setting up security on their system. They may not even have any virus/malware protection either. You could offer your services. Who knows?! You might make a buck or two and/or strengthen your bond with your neighbors.

  10. #10
    I'll bring this to his attention; all around good tips, I'll actually point him to this thread (I doubt he'd mind..)

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Daskapital View Post
    Giving a friendly tip is "white knighting"? Honestly, maybe the laws are really weird in the US, but what exactly is he worried might happen? Did he have to snoop through the neighbours personal documents to realize whose unsecured router it was? If that's the case, he probably wants to not mention it. But if the router was named something like "MikesdownstairsneighbourJohn" or something that obviously identifies who owns it, then theres nothing wrong with giving the guy/girl a friendly heads up
    The white knighting is telling the neighbor.

    Me and most of my degenerate friends would have just used his wifi for free.

    I know...I'm edgy, right?
    Get a grip man! It's CHEESE!

  12. #12
    Role reverse it for him. If he unknowingly left a wi-fi unprotected but his neighbor knew how would he feel about the neighbor? Personally I think he should tell him. I highly doubt he will get in trouble.

    My brother leaves his unprotected but he lives in a neighborhood where there is a lot of kids and everyone knows each other so he's not too worried.

  13. #13
    Herald of the Titans Theodon's Avatar
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    Change his SSID to "youshouldsecurethis"

  14. #14
    Scarab Lord Roose's Avatar
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    Hop on pirate bay and fill up a hard drive

    If they do not want their wifi used they should secure it. Simple as that. This aint rocket science.

  15. #15
    it not a legal move to access an unsecured network without permission from the owner. the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act has provisions, though mostly they're regarding theft of data, not theft of bandwidth. i could also see something regarding trespassing holding for this as well.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030

  16. #16
    Bloodsail Admiral foil's Avatar
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    I dont think your friend works in any IT department.

  17. #17
    What's the big deal? Casually mention to the neighbour that their WiFi is unsecured and tell them that's a bad idea.

  18. #18
    UPDATE!!! My buddy went over to his neighbors house and explained the situation. She was shocked, invited him in, and he walked her through how to manage her network with security and to check logs periodically for intruders. She baked a cake for him as thanks.

    Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement!

  19. #19
    Banned This name sucks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by munchkin View Post
    UPDATE!!! My buddy went over to his neighbors house and explained the situation. She was shocked, invited him in, and he walked her through how to manage her network with security and to check logs periodically for intruders. She baked a cake for him as thanks.

    Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement!
    Hard drive full of movies > cake.

  20. #20
    Glad it worked out munch but don't eat the cake it's a lie!!!!!!

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