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Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

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Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby markkay » Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:41 pm

A friend just moved into in a Milwaukee apartment building, started to get wireless interent from the local cable company, and therefore she has to enter a password to get access to her wireless internet.

A neighbor figured out that she has a wireless network and has offered to pay her $20 a month if she gives him her password so he can use her wireless internet connection. The neighbor probably had a similar arrangement worked out with the previous occupant of her apartment.

Should she take the guy's $20 per month and let him use her wireless network? It sounds dangerous to do so, but I'm not exactly sure why. For example, he wouldn't obtain access to her computer just because he uses the same wireless network, would he? What exactly are the risks to her?
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby fisticuffs » Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:48 pm

Depends on how savvy she is with her security settings and how savvy the neighbor is as well. She runs the risk of losing a lot of bandwidth to him if he is a heavy user as well.
I'd share with someone I knew in that situation but you'd want to make sure it was a neighbor you trust not one you just met.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby Shorty » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:05 pm

Bandwith? Internet cafes and libraries often have 10-50 users at a time. If they can do that, I wouldn't think bandwith would be a problem with 2 neighbors.

But is sharing wifi legal between neighbors? That may be a bigger worry.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby rabble » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:07 pm

We have a shared hard drive on our network which means we share with nobody. If the shared drive wasn't there, I'd still say no unless I knew the neighbor so well that we had keys to each other's apartment, took care of each other's pets, were first contact for medical emergencies, and basically acted as though we were in a commune. I enjoyed having neighbors like that, but haven't had any for twenty years or so.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby fisticuffs » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:08 pm

Bandwith? Internet cafes and libraries often have 10-50 users at a time. If they can do that, I wouldn't think bandwith would be a problem with 2 neighbors.

It is a concern. That Library probably has a T1 line running to it. the Cafe certainly doesn't have the cheapest option to provider offered which is probably the case with a chick in an apartment. If this guy gets going on any biog files from multiple sources she could run into big problems with performance. Then again if the guy was into that he'd probably have a nice line running to his place to begin with.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby Shorty » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:19 pm

If she gave her password to her neighbor, I think the neighbor could change the password so only he could use her internet. Then she would need to call her provider and explain what happened, at which point the provider may charge her a hefty fine for sharing wifi. I wouldn't share wifi with new neighbors if I were her.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby bekee » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:31 pm

he likely wouldn't be able to get into her computer because they'd be sharing wireless, not participating on the same wireless network; that said, he could get access to her online passwords, just like on an unsecured network in a cafe.

i'm not sure that he could change the password; i think you have to be physically plugged into the router to get to 192.168.0.1 to make dsl setting changes, but i could be wrong on that.

edit: i am wrong. if he's on the wireless, he can change the password on the router.

situations like this suck. she's probably a nice person and doesn't want to piss off the neighbor but this seems like a time when he needs to learn how to man-up and take care of himself.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby donges » Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:10 pm

Security is a concern. If he is on the same network, he certainly can see her system, can print to her wireless printer (if she has one), etc. In short, he becomes part of the same network.

Bandwidth and legalities are an issue if he is using something like Bittorrent for downloading copyright protected movies or software on a regular basis.

And what if he is into child pornography? By using her wireless connection, she is implicated and will be the first person law enforcement talks to once they track the IP address back.

This is not a good idea for her.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby supaunknown » Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:32 pm

Besides all the potential legal/tech probs described with sharing the wireless connection, something tells me the $20 under-the-table payment wouldn't get paid regularly.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby green union terrace chair » Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:45 pm

supaunknown wrote:Besides all the potential legal/tech probs described with sharing the wireless connection, something tells me the $20 under-the-table payment wouldn't get paid regularly.


I read through the thread looking for this answer. This is the most common problem I've heard of in arrangements such as this. And if she doesn't control the router (to reset the password), she wouldn't be able to kick him off without a call to the admin.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby barney » Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:44 pm

Actually, if he did change the password on her, she could do a hard factory reset. (Obviously, she would have to have physical possession of the router, which I assume she would.)

I would be more worried about the not paying and/or the criminal potential. Dude could be running a child porn ring or bit torrenting pirated copies of The Expendables or Adobe CS5, and she could be liable if the account with that IP is in her name. Not cool.

Plus, he can get decent broadband for around that per month these days anyway, right? Time to man up and join the 20th century.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby Petro » Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:46 pm

fisticuffs wrote:It is a concern. That Library probably has a T1 line running to it.


My short answer: Do you trust this person? If not, forget it.

A T1 is 1.544Mb (small b) a second. That was a big deal in the mid 90s, but not so much anymore. Most DSL packages can deliver more bandwidth these days, but of course - there's no committed information rate (CIR) with such consumer packages.

Bandwidth consumption can vary widely. 50 people in a library surfing static content could use very little of it, but if only a handful of those same 50 start watching youtube HD content, or sharing files on a P2P network? It can all come screeching to a halt.

Even without shared content, sharing the network gives the neighbor (and by extension, any of their associates) an inroad into your network. I personally wouldn't be comfortable with such an arrangement, I'd push for a situation where the neighbor is bridged onto your network through their own router and they've got a static route that directs all of their traffic outside of your firewall. This is probably outside of the tech comfort zone of your friend, unfortunately.

Even with the above scenario, you're linking yourself to their actions online. So, we're back to the issue of how well you know this person as well as how much you trust them. What's preventing them from getting their own internet service, anyway? Frugality? Bad credit? Conditions of parole?
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby Uncle_Leaver » Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:25 pm

Wow ... a lot of words wasted on this thread.

Here's your answer: Incredibly bad idea. Period.

Fuck bandwidth. Shared IP. Guy downloads child porn. Ugliness ensues and suddenly the legit customer is sipping shitty coffee with linked wrists talking to a couple of G Men.
Last edited by Uncle_Leaver on Mon Aug 16, 2010 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby Petro » Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:41 pm

Uncle_Leaver wrote:Wow ... a lot of words wasted on this thread.

Here's your answer: Incredibly bad idea. Period.

Fuck bandwidth. Shared IP. Guy downloads child porn. Ugliness ensues and suddenly the legit customer is sipping shitty with linked wrists talking to a couple of G Men.


It doesn't work like that. I'll spare you the explanation, as you're seemingly opposed to verbosity.

You get hassled and ultimately cleared, but it certainly isn't anything you'd intentionally want to experience.
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Re: Dangers of sharing wireless network with neighbor?

Postby ArturoBandini » Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:59 pm

I thought that most routers only allow change of admin-level settings (e.g. password) with a physical ethernet connection. There were a few models released awhile ago that allowed remote administration, but I remember a hubbub in the geek community. These settings can usually be disabled.

If the internet service is with Charter, then multi-dwelling sharing is expressly prohibited in the residential acceptable use agreement:
The Service is designed for personal and family use (residential use only) within a single household. Customer agrees that only the Customer and co-residents living in the same household will use the Service. The term ‘single household’ means the Customer’s home and includes an apartment, condominium, flat or other residential unit that may be used as a residence in any multiple dwelling unit. The Service is being provided solely for residential use in Customer’s household and any unauthorized access by a third party to e-mail, Internet access, or any other function of the Service relieves Charter of any affirmative obligations it may have, and is in violation of this Policy and the Charter Internet Residential Customer Agreement . Customer is responsible for any misuse of the Service that occurs through Customer’s account whether by a member of Customer’s household or an authorized or unauthorized third-party.
http://www.charter.com/Visitors/Policies.aspx?Policy=6

I would venture that AT&T and other providers have similar legal provisions. They're in the business to make money, after all.
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