Anthony Fajri

Another Blog

Teen, 17, first to be charged with unauthorised

There’s a funny article (for me) in straits times, saturday Nov 11th 2006.  Here’s the article. (you need login to read the article in the straits times’ website)

Teen, 17, first to be charged with unauthorised
wireless Net access

By Chua Hian Hou

A 17-YEAR-OLD polytechnic student has become the first
person here to be charged with piggybacking on someone
else’s wireless Internet connection.

Garyl Tan Jia Luo was accused yesterday of using a
laptop computer to gain unauthorised access to a home
wireless network on May 13 this year.

If convicted, Tan faces up to three years in jail and
fines of up to $10,000 under Section 6(1)(a) of the
Computer Misuse Act.

Tan was released on $6,000 bail and is scheduled to
appear at the Subordinate Courts on Wednesday.

Court documents did not describe the circumstances in
which Tan was arrested, but The Straits Times
understands that a neighbour near his Casuarina Walk
home had lodged a complaint against him.

While there are no statistics on how commonplace the
practice of piggybacking unsecured home wireless
networks is, networking firm Cisco System’s spokesman,
Mr Rayson Cheo, said it is probably quite widespread
here.

Most modern notebook computers and personal digital
assistants (PDAs) have the ability to sniff out
unsecured networks and hop online for free with just a
few clicks.

There are numerous guides online that describe how to
do this and the low cost of wireless networking
equipment means that most HDB or condominium blocks
have unprotected networks users can log on to.

Said Mr Cheo: ‘People assume, wrongly, that since it
is there, it is okay to use it.’

Mr Aloysius Cheang, the chairman of local infocomm
security association, the Special Interest Group in
Security and Information Integrity, said: ‘Most people
probably do it because it is convenient, or because
they are cheap and want free Internet.

‘But, for some, it is because they want to do
something illegal like defaming someone or downloading
pirated MP3s, and they don’t want the activities
traced back to their own network.’

In the online world, there are even special terms for
it, like ‘wardriving’ and ‘Wi-Fi mooching’.

The problem, said lawyer Bryan Tan, is that while most
people know that mooching is not quite legitimate,
they probably do not know that it can be treated as a
serious offence.

‘Blinkered by the convenience and allure of ?free
Internet’, people don’t realise that mooching is the
virtual equivalent of trespassing,’ he added.

Likewise, many users do not seem to realise that they
can block moochers simply by installing a password on
their Internet connections.

For most users, the only indication they get that
someone is mooching is when their connection speed
slows down, though Mr Cheo said software tools are
available for download that can track who is using a
network and what they are doing on it.

While the case is the first of its kind here, there
have been at least two similar arrests and convictions
in the United States.

In some countries like Holland, Mr Tan added, Wi-Fi
network owners can even be held liable by the courts
for crimes committed on their unprotected networks.

chuahh@sph.com.sg

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November 14, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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