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MIT helps itself to your Wifi

Here's a good reason to secure your wireless internet. Hari Balakrishnan and Samuel Madden have been helping themselves to your WiFi to collect traffic data, a lucrative commercial field. They've been doing it for more than a year, rather than pay for internet connectivity like everyone else.

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Comments

Honestly, there are far better reasons to encrypt your WiFi than worrying about a couple of MIT researchers doing some interesting work on real-time traffic reporting. They'd be more than welcome to use my WiFi, aside from the fact that I live on a side street off a side street off a side street.

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Sounds like a possible compromise of your privacy, financial or personally identifiable data, and could lead to identity theft. To your point, "better reasons".

And I am completely skeptical that their work is "interesting"

I would rather mitigate my data's exposure then help two MIT students. They contribute nothing to my quality of life by using my data without permission, when they could obtain it elsewhere.

This isn't mesh networking, this is data analysis (and possible packet sniffing) without permission.

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I read the article Brett linked to. It looks like they've equipped a bunch of cars with some sort of data recorder, then using WiFi hotspots along the way to transmit the data back to some central spot to create real-time traffic maps (as opposed to using a much more expensive satellite system).

Did I miss the part where it says they are attempting to grab information from the home computers attached to those WiFI access points?

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To backpedal slightly on the project, I presumed "traffic analysis" meant data traffic on the sniffed network, not car traffic. So my bad for not RTFA.

That said, I also think that folks who don't protect their network are implicitly leaving it open for others to use, so the whole argument of the use "without notice" being evil is rather moot.

Please excuse my reactionary confusion. I myself would have an open lilypad if the account was not bound to my person in any manner. Ah, liability.

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That said, I also think that folks who don't protect their network are implicitly leaving it open for others to use, so the whole argument of the use "without notice" being evil is rather moot.

So if I leave my front door unlocked, I'm implicitly leaving my house open for others to use? (no, idiot.)

If I break into your house and steal something, I'm charged with a)breaking, b)entering, and c)theft. If you just walk into my house and steal my TV, you're charged with B and C. If you just walk into my house, you're charged with B (or trespassing.)

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...positioned so the screen is facing out the window, don't complain if people stand outside your window and watch it.

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and people stand and sit outside the store watching Red Sox games.

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Just like some people create software and then release it for free.

Damn commie pinkos, I know, but there you have it.

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And I'm glad when they do so I can use my iPod touch to check on a Local Sports Team while I'm out and about.

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More like if you left your door open, and you were liable for anything anyone did inside. Idiot.
:)

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They could also use the cellular networks to transmit data (ie: those PCMCIA cards you can get for your laptop). Less than satellites, more than hotspots.

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They could also use the cellular networks to transmit data

From the project site:

"Unlike traditional automotive telematics systems that rely on cellular or satellite connectivity, CarTel uses wireless networks opportunistically. It uses a combination of WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular connectivity, using whatever mode is available and working well at any time, but shields applications from the underlying details."

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