Wireless theft . . .

In the words of Malcom McClaren, “ever had the feeling you’ve been had?”

I’m currently road testing a Nokia business mobile phone that features wireless internet – it’s quite a cool gadget, if a little clunky to use. Anyway, the interesting thing about this phone is that it allows you to wander around and it flashes up on the screen when there’s a wireless network near by.

This makes taking the dog for a walk quite interesting, as you can scout for unprotected wifi zones very easily. You could wander around with a laptop open but the fact that this device fits in your hand makes it practical to go fishing for wifi.

Anyway, I have a wireless network in my house and so was lounging on the sofa the other night when I thought I’d do an e-mail check using the phone rather than getting my lazy arse up to walk the 15 feet into the office where there is a PC. So I scanned for a network and found mine, as well as one other. Hmm, that’s interesting.

My network wasn’t security protected, as I didn’t think there was anyone else around my area using wireless. Turns out I was wrong. Lots of people were using wireless. My wireless to be exact!

How do I know this? Well, I set up some security protection on my wireless router on the main PC and idly clicked the button marked “DHCP Client list” which shows the MAC address of machines connected to my network. There should have been three – my desktop PC, my laptop and the wireless internet phone. Instead, there were another nine or so mystery surfers. Check it out.

wireless2.jpg

(I’ve blurred out my details, but theirs are visible.)

Wankers! It turns out that probably every 14 year old boy in my area has been downloading full length movies on my connection. (I dread to think just what exactly has come down my pipe. Probably best not thought about actually.) No wonder it seemed a little sluggish. Having set up security so that my connection can’t be piggybacked, I then went for a walk with the phone to see how many wireless networks there are nearby and it turns out there’s one in every second house near me. I counted 10 in a 15 minute walk around the block with the dog.

Anyway, enough about that – back to work for me. I’ve overdue on a feature for the Irish Independent, so I should really typing that, not this.

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