Beware the wardriving menace

Doonesbury 2002

Now that the mainstream media have apparently run out of bluesnarfing stories to stir up public concern, they've turned back to an earlier "threat" — fiendish wardrivers out to purloin bandwidth for unknown and nefarious purposes. As reported by the St. Petersburg Times, Benjamin Smith III was recently arrested in Florida for "hacking into" an open WiFi network. According to the newspaper report, Richard Dinon, a St. Petersburg resident, saw an SUV parked outside his home, with its driver "furtively hunched over his computer," and called the cops. Smith was charged with unauthorized access to a computer network, a felony. While it's possible that Smith was using Dinon's WiFi connection for some ulterior motive ("I'm mainly worried about what the guy may have uploaded or downloaded, like kiddie porn," Dinon said. "But I'll probably never know."), the fact that he was arrested solely for using the network should be enough to send a chill through anyone who has temporarily borrowed a neighbor's bandwidth while their own router was being repaired. If stories like this one result in more users setting up WEP (and, yes, we know it's not very secure, but it'll block "casual" intruders) on their machines, fine. If, however, every time we open a laptop in a public place (some of which, like New York's City Hall Park, have public WiFi access), we're tagged as a potential criminal, something truly valuable will have been lost.

[Via Slashdot]