Saturday, March 19, 2005

How I Would Feel? Let Me Tell You About How I Feel...

Via Slashdot, I read in the New York Times online that Wi-Fi networks are giving law enforcement people fits.
The spread of the wireless data technology known as Wi-Fi has reshaped the way millions of Americans go online, letting them tap into high-speed Internet connections effortlessly at home and in many public places.

But every convenience has its cost. Federal and state law enforcement officials say sophisticated criminals have begun to use the unsecured Wi-Fi networks of unsuspecting consumers and businesses to help cover their tracks in cyberspace.


I'm posting this to MojoWire right now from my home wireless network, which is a completely unsecured access point— reachable by any of about a dozen homes in my immediate neighborhood— and, for all I know, in half a dozen directories of such open access points to be found in San Francisco. I'm on the side of a hill where anybody with a good directional can use my Wi-Fi network from practically anywhere between my house and the Golden Gate bridge. And I like it that way.

The last several times I've taken packet traces of my Wi-Fi network in the middle of the night, I've noticed that one or more people are using it to surf porn or VPN into their work accounts. This is all good as far as I'm concerned. And believe me, I know how to configure my network for security. I WROTE THE FSCKING CODE THAT IMPLEMENTS IT IN THE PRODUCT I'M USING. I could easily turn it on if I wanted to...

I don't. So, I'm vastly amused by this article in the Grey Lady. My favorite part comes in the last paragraph.
That attitude makes life easier for tech-savvy criminals and tougher for those who pursue them. "The public needs to realize that all they're doing is making it harder on me to go find the bad guys," said Mr. Gilhooly, the former Secret Service agent. "How would you feel if you're sitting at home and meanwhile someone is using your Wi-Fi to hack a bank or hack a company and downloads a million credit card numbers, which happens all the time? I come to you and knock on your door, and all you can say is, 'Oops.' "

When that happens to me, it's going to be a fun time for everyone involved. It will be a three-ring, six-alarm circus. I am living for the day when this "former Secret Service agent" comes to my door and tells me this. Believe me, I will be able to say a lot more than just "Oops."

I will say, "And this is my problem why?"

No, really. Why is this my problem?

Is there a law or something that says I have to lock my stuff up so that nobody else uses it when I'm away?

No, you dimwit— you don't get to charge Mr. Identity Thief with unauthorized network access in addition to all the other more serious charges. I am quite deliberately leaving my network open to anyone who wants to drive up and park on the street outside my house, including thieves and criminals. Why? So that pindicks like you have to have a defensible probable cause before you can break into my house and take away my shit. That's why.

And if you don't like it, you should explain to me why you think you should be able to lean on my family and neighbors because you're having a hard time catching a crook you can't prove has anything to do with us. Yes, I understand your job is hard. So is mine. But when I fsck up, we sell fewer products and maybe the company loses money. When you fsck up, you might end up accusing the wrong guy of being a terrorist and starting a process that quickly results in rendering his sorry carcass to someplace like Turkmenistan— where they boil people alive if they don't make a false confession under less strenuous treatment.

I'll bet you think it was unfair of me to make that observation. Tough noogies. It's the sad truth, and people in your line of work better start getting used to it. You're cops. Real surveillance is what you guys are supposed to be trained to do. Start doing your fscking jobs.

Let me make this perfectly clear: My IP address is not my identity!

If you think I'm a criminal, then grow a spine and prove that I'm the guy who really did the crime you're investigating— not just the owner of a network used by the real criminal you're trying to catch. The alternative before you is to make it a crime for me to operate an open network— and I gotta say, it's going to be pretty damned funny watching you try to enforce that law. You will open a can of weirdness beyond your capacity for rational thought trying to do that.

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