WATPA: FW: CBS 2: Wi-Fi for Free? People using their neighbor's wi-fi signal for free

From: Norm Jacknis <norm@jacknis.com>
Date: Fri Sep 02 2005 - 21:13:14 EDT
In case you missed it ...


-------- Original Message --------

Aug 30, 2005 8:52 am US/Eastern

Wi-Fi for Free?

People using their neighbor's wi-fi signal for free.

Tony Aiello

(CBS) NEW YORK High-speed internet access costs about $50-dollars a  
month, but what if you could surf for free? Emily Conrad doesn't pay  
a dime for her internet connection. She uses her neighbor's wi-fi  
signal for free.

"The people who have their networks open, they're a great asset to  
us," says Emily.

People have been stealing, or borrowing their neighbor's wireless  
connection for years. But with more people now signing up for  
wireless, it's getting even easier to piggy-back on a signal someone  
else pays for. A recent Jupiter Research poll revealed 14 percent of  
wi-fi users admit using a neighbor's connection.

It's costing internet providers customers, but Emily says she doesn't  
feel sorry for them.

"I think they're looking after their own interest in the same way we  
are," says Emily.

In densely populated areas, it's easy to take advantage of someone  
else's wireless connection. Inside a Manhattan apartment, you can  
find several connections which could be coming from any unit inside  
this high rise apartment building.

And now, a growing number of websites advertise how to share a high  
speed connection. Neighbornode.Net can turn any laptop into a virtual  
hotspot. Mohit Santram opens his high speed connection so his Lower  
Eastside neighbors can surf for free.

"Free wi-fi access to people is really crucial because youre opening  
doors for people," says Mohit. "And you're giving them access to  
knowledge and giving everyone access to the internet is only going to  
help society."

Rob Bernstein is editor of the trend magazine, Sync. He says two  
years ago, Time Warner Cable went after customers who shared their  
high speed connection. And now many companies have policies against it.

"This is something they don't want to see out there," Rob says. "They  
make money on every subscription so if people are giving it away,  
that's a problem."

Officials at Time Warner, Verizon, and Earthlink didn't want to talk  
on camera, but they all said over the phone, they don't see this as a  

But internet security consultant, John Pironti says opening your  
internet connection to strangers could threaten your computer. Even  
using a stranger's wireless connection could infect your system with  
viruses or worms.

"It's like having a neighbor sitting right next to you with a  
computer," says John, an internet security consultant with Unisys.  
"They can actually touch your computer, access your computer, they  
have closer levels of cability to find your computer. "

Many legal analysts say borrowing or stealing a person's internet  
access is difficult to prosecute, but they all warn if someone breaks  
the law using your connection, it will trace back to your computer.

Received on Fri Sep 2 21:12:50 2005

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