2Q: How secure is airport and is wardriving illegal?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by mcarnes, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. mcarnes macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2004
    USA! USA!
    So I just got my new 12" iBook today (1.2 Ghz, 768MB, 80GB, Airport, BT). Hot damn I love this thing. Anyway, I downloaded MacStumbler and started driving around and there are wireless signals everywhere! I believe this is called wardrivng (?)

    My questions:

    1) How secure is transferring data over the airport card. I mean, would you drive around, find a signal, and order something with your credit card?

    2) I'm a poor student and am now thinking I can use this instead of buying internet service. Is this legal? It seems too easy. I'm a newbie here, so educate me. I don't want to do anything illegal.

  2. latergator116 macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2003
    Providence, RI
    I'm guessing it's probably illegal, but as long as you don't use too much bandwith, it seems harmless.
  3. aplasticspork macrumors regular

    May 27, 2004
    Seattle Wa.
    last time i checked, in the US at least, you can use any wireless network you come across. for example, i could set up an airport, and the people next door could use it without paying anyone. i might be wrong on that, but i thought that was the case :)
  4. musicpyrite macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    Cape Cod
    Is wardriving illegal?

    That's a tough question. I've heard good arguments for both sides.

    Some one could say that it is perfectly legal, as your neighbors wireless signal is intruding into your property (house, apartment, dorm, etc.) so therefor you have every right to use it as you see fit.

    To me that is akin to walking into the middle of the street, finding a million dollars laying there, and taking it. Legal? Yes. Morally legal? Not really.

    Others have said that wardriving is illegal because the owner of the wireless base station is broadcasting the owners own signal, and they are the ones who should only be using it.

    To me, wardriving is more of a moral issue.

    On the note of security, you are usually NOT safe on ANY kind of wireless internet connection. The Defcon convention a few months ago that was held in Nevada had this projector shining on a wall. It was called 'the wall of sheep' because it monitored and displayed all wireless signals within the area. Some do-do brain was dumb enough to download his tax returns on and unencrypted network. And don't think for a second that you are safe because you use WEP encryption, you can easily crack it if you know how; basically: you are not safe on the internet.
  5. iLikeMyiMac macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2004
    St. Louis
    I think its illegal if you get onto their private network and access their computer. I think using the internet on someone else's private wireless connection is illegal because it is considered bandwidth theft.
    Wardriving in the sense of going around and seeing where the signals are is in itself in not illegal.

    If you do do it you will probably not get caught by the cops but if person whom you are using their wireless signal happens to see you connected he/she may get mad.

    musicpyrite's argument about the "wireless signal is intruding into your property" maybe flawed b/c one could use a satellite TV signal as a counter example. The satellite is broadcasting over my property but I can't use it without paying for it.

    There is really no way for them to find you. If I found someone else on my wifi I would probably just change the password or WEP key and get over it. If you do decide to use someone else's wifi do not do anything illegal on it because if you get caught they IP will be traced back to them.

    As for wireless security, I would not use wifi for financial transactions or for transmitting other confidential information. This is the same for using a wireless phone for calls you don't want other people to hear because if you know how to do it it's fairly easy to listen in.
  6. AdamR01 macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2003
    Wouldn't this data already be encryped with SSL or some other encryption though?
  7. 12ibookg4 macrumors regular

    Dec 22, 2003
    i know that in some states accessing a network without permission is a felony so i guess that would go for wireless networks as well but it is pretty much an unenforceable law and i doubt you will get in any trouble
  8. 12ibookg4 macrumors regular

    Dec 22, 2003
    you're right. if there is a lock in the corner of your browser window or if the address is like https://www.url.com then it is encrypted with a certificate and is pretty safe
  9. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Since there seems to be no real law on this I go by my my "rules":

    1. It is fine to use someone else's wireless network, however you may not attempt to access someone else's personal files.

    2. If a wireless network is encrypted, give it a pass. Do not try to gain access. There will be others that are free and open.

    3. Don't mess around with the router. Changing the SSID to something like "Morons Anonymous Headquarters" is not OK to do.

    Basically, use it for the internet access and nothing else. Unless some county/state/US law supersedes me, that is what I do.
  10. Stampyhead macrumors 68020


    Sep 3, 2004
    London, UK
    Although there are no laws as of yet against wardriving, having an unknown user on your network can cause problems. In an apartment complex where I used to live I set up my airport for wireless but left it unprotected (I was a wireless newbie back then, I didn't think security was necessary). But then every weekend the internet connection would go out. When I called the cable company they said they shut us off because we were broadcasting a virus. I told told the guy this was impossible because I have a mac and they don't get viruses. He and I were totally clueless about what was going on, until I realized that the fact that this was happening at the same time once a week probably meant that someone was hopping onto my network at that time and was probably the one responsible for broadcasting the virus. I turned on MAC address filtering in my Airport and I never had the problem again.
    Now, obviously you would not be broadcasting any viruses with your Powerbook. I guess the point of my story is to illustrate that sometimes simply hopping onto someone's wireless connection isn't as innocent as we might think.
  11. MacFan26 macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2003
    San Francisco, California
    Ah, wardriving. As long as they are open networks, I don't see what the problem is, since it ought to be up to the user to set a password. Anyone live in Seattle and heard of the Seattle wireless project? Whats in your box.org is trying to do something similiar in Tucson AZ. Basically, a free open wireless network that spans across the city.
  12. joepunk macrumors 68030


    Aug 5, 2004
    a profane existence
    I have heard of it but don't know anything much about it as I am currently living at Western (Bellingham). A few weekends ago I visited my parents house (in Everett) and we had dinner at an Alfy's. I saw signs there stating that they had wireless access. I could have eaten my salad and surfed the web. I don't think I would bring my laptop to any Alfy's due to the risk of a nasty food mess.
  13. AoWolf macrumors 6502a


    Nov 17, 2003
    Daytona Beach

    Dang it just had to move to florida. I heard that some people were going to spend 10 million dollars and cover the entire city of Philadelphia with wifi.
  14. mcarnes thread starter macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2004
    USA! USA!
    So if I am using Safari over wifi and a lock symbol appears in the upper right corner (thus a secure website), am I safe to order something online with my credit card?

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