Wired has recently published an article by Bruce Schneier titled “Steal This Wi-Fi“. Schneier is CTO of BT Counterpane and a security and chriptography guru, he is the author of many succesful books on network security (Applied Cryptography, Secrets and Lies, Beyond Fear) and publishes Crypto-Gram, a free newsletter with over 130,000 readers.

In his article for Wired he states his reasons for leaving his WiFi connection open to anyone passing by his home: “providing internet access to guests is kind of like providing heat and electricity, or a hot cup of tea”. He then goes through all the risks leaving your WiFi open might involve, from network security to having the Recording Industry Association of America sue you for copyright infringement due to some guy using your connection for P2P. Another issue many people are concerned about is somebody using too much of their bandwith. According to Schneier most of these are not huge risks in themselves and, in any case, “security is always a trade-off”.

His final considerations are about FON, which developed “an interesting approach to this problem. Fon wireless access points have two wireless networks: a secure one for you, and an open one for everyone else.”

Schneier chose to share his WiFi and appreciates everybody who does the same. But while keeping your network open can indeed expose you to some risks, FON lets you share your WiFi in a safe way: the Fonera protects your private signal with WPA encryption, identifies and keeps track of who uses your connection and lets you choose how much of your bandwith to share with other foneros.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

No Comments

Enrique Burgos on January 11, 2008  · 

Great support from this “guru”

A “fonero”


3.0 rating

Nigel Jones on January 14, 2008  · 

In the above you say identifies and keeps track of who uses your connection

I think there is one significant exposure here – the free access given to a visitor. In this case there is no identification whatsover. I feel this needs to be looked at – perhaps only allowing access to “safe”/restricted sites.

This wouldn’t prevent some form of free access, nominal 1c etc/refund guaurantee managed post-registration but would prevent exploitation of the free time.

personally I have set my FON to use OpenDNS with selected site types blocked. Not perfect & completely hackable, but a step in the right direction IMO.

3.0 rating

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