Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Can I hop onto someone else's network?

When talking to students about wireless networking, one of the questions that I often get asked is - "after I have a [wireless] card in my computer, can I get onto my neighbour's network if it's not protected?" I often reply that there is nothing really stopping you, other than knowing that what you are doing is a form of trespassing (enough that people have been charged with "gaining unauthorized access to a computer network"). This as we know is not ethical (one of the points from the 20 things post yesterday). This morning, I found this article from the St. Petersburg Times by Alex Leary. In it, Leary quotes Jim Guerin, technology director for the city of Dunedin (soon to be one of the first if not the first WiFi city) who says: "The information age is over. The information is out there ... Now it's the connectivity age. It opens up a whole new area for ethics, legal boundaries and responsibilities. It's a whole new frontier." So, in this connectivity era, we have to be sure to educate students about network safety the same way that we taught them about virus safety and home safety, if not for them right now, for their parents now and themselves later. This (computer and network safety - for both the user and the hard/software) is a good candidate for a fifth point on David Warlick's list.