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 Post subject: Leaching WiFi
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:27 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:28 am
Posts: 25
I do not have a wireless set-up in my home, but when I get on my laptop I have a list of networks that I can choose to connect to. Some say they are secure, some do not. I've never even tried to connect to any of the unsecure networks, but was wondering if this is okay to do so.

The reason I ask is because I would like to connect to one of those networks while using my laptop in other areas of the house.

I have some questions I'd like to ask.

1. Is connecting to someone's wireless network considered illegal to do? I honestly do not know!

2. If I was to connect to one of the unsecure networks, would they know?

3. How would they know if I connected?

4. Also, since I'm getting their wireless signal in my house, where ever that signal is coming from would have to be a close neighbor, correct?

5. How far will a wireless signal typically reach? I have big oak trees all around in my neighborhood and would think they would seriously affect a signal.

I am asking these questions because I certainly do not want to do anything illegal and cause myself or anyone else any trouble! So, if anyone knows the correct answers to my questions, please let me know.

In the mean time, I'll just stay connected on my desktop.

Thanks in advance and...


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:50 pm 
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1. To connect with someone's unsecured network, outside of something like a Starbucks or McDonald's, without their permission may not be illegal... but it is unethical.

2,3. They would be able to tell if you connected by checking their router logs.

4. Depending on conditions and antenna height, I'd say that up to a quarter-mile is possible. More likely is within maybe a couple of hundred feet.

5. Dense trees, wall materials and coverings (aluminum siding, brick, concrete, etc.), foil-backed fiberglass insulation, will cut range somewhat.

If others have more knowledge than this, please chime in. I'm only speaking from my little bit of personal experience.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 7:29 pm 
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1. It depends on where you are. It's illegal in some places but not in others. But whether or not it's legal where you live, if you're asking then you know its not right, right? :)

2. Depends on their knowledge level and interest in checking. You have to go specifically look.

3. Its in the logs. I have an old 802.11b router that I leave on and unsecured but not connected to anything just to see how many people try to connect to it. All I get is a MAC address and the computer name. That doesn't always tell me anything, but when I see Natalie-PC in the logs, it narrows it down a bit. Which is to say that I've had my share of people try, so my real router is a bit more secure. :mrgreen:

4. It depends on the equipment being used, but generally not too far away. See the chart in answer 5 for ballpark figures.

5. Again, it depends on the equipment being used. You can see a chart here that gives the theoretical maximum distance for the different wireless standards, but those are all under ideal conditions. And I'm sure that anyone with the skills to modify their router to exceed the specs would have their wifi secured.

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