General Question

rebbel's avatar

What are the (possible) cons of allowing a stranger the use of one's wireless internet connection?

Asked by rebbel (23532 points ) March 8th, 2012

A few hours ago my neighbors asked me if they could use our WiFi for a few days.
I told him I wanted to think this over, and discuss it with my girlfriend, before I would say yes or no.
We don’t have a particular relationship with our neighbors (other than that they annoy us every now and then with too much noise, and my helping his girlfriend with some small practical things), and I don’t have reasons to believe they would use it for any thing else than the purpose he told me (he wants the connection for a about a week, to watch foreign tv stations).
But I think I’ve been spooked out in the past by alarming articles and news items about internet safety, identity theft, child porn, downloading illegal stuff, etc.
My question is the following:
Is it safe (or not safe at all) to allow ‘a stranger’ usage of one’s wireless connection?
What are (possible) cons?
Edited to add that my girlfriend is a fierce online game player (Warcraft); will an extra user on my connection decrease the fluency of her playing?
Thanks in advance!

Edit: Would you allow access to your WiFi to ‘a stranger’?

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13 Answers

MrItty's avatar

* Ability to hack into your other computers connected to the same network, accessing “private” files.

* Decreased bandwidth for your own usage.

* Anything illegal or infringing (which “watching foreign tv stations” would certainly fall under) would be traced back to you, not him.

XOIIO's avatar

I cans trip the SSL certificat eoff of any web page for any PC on the network, grabbing passwords for facebook, email, and bank logins, it’s extremely easy to do, and anybody with the smallest amount of computer knowledge can figure it out, and use it for malicous activities. You can also use many back door programs to get into the computers, and copy or place files, I’m sure you heard about the neighbor who got into the othe rperson’s computer, and tried to pace child pornography on it to get them in trouble, luckuly he was discovered and the authorities took action. If you desperately need to lend a wirleess connection, buy another wireless router, and set up a second network, and make sure you have the router settings password protected.

sinscriven's avatar

WoW isn’t very bandwidth intensive, so it probably won’t have any effect on her play, even if raiding.

However, giving them access gives them a dangerous amount of liberty and opportunity to access your data on any of your devices on your wifi network. And you are legally responsible for all traffic on your connection so it’s your responsibility to secure it. If your neighbor starts downloading CP and the feds catch him, you’re just as liable for charges.

Sharing Wifi is like sharing sex toys, you probably wouldn’t share it with friends, and should even less so with people you’re meh about. Internet access isnt that expensive anymore, even Comcast/AT&T have cheap-o internet plans for people with low incomes.

Keep_on_running's avatar

If you don’t fully trust them, don’t do it. Better to be safe than sorry.

elbanditoroso's avatar

While @MrItty and @sinscriven are correct in a theoretical sense, there is probably minimal real risk and any practical sense. Sure, I could be mugged tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean I am going to start carrying a gun against that somewhat remote possibility.

XOIIO's avatar

Oh yeah, fake your IP address, and download illegal things (like child pornography) so it gets traced back to your computer, that too.

flutherother's avatar

About a year ago my neighbour, who I hardly knew, asked me exactly that question and I said no. I felt a little bad about it but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable about potentially giving her access to everything on my network. If she’d asked to borrow some tea bags or a pint of milk that would have been fine.

john65pennington's avatar

No way. You do not know this person and he could tell you anything, just to get you to say okay.

He may be planning on robbing a bank and your pc will be used iniatially, causing the FBI and police to come knocking on your door.

Since you do not know this person or his true intentions, I would say no.

Bellatrix's avatar

No, I wouldn’t give a stranger access to my WiFi network. My main concerns would be the privacy aspect and the risk of them carrying out illegal activity that I could be responsible for. My other concerns are it could start a pattern of behaviour I do not want to be involved with. If you say yes now, they could come back in a month and ask the same thing. I am sure there are internet cafes and the like if they need to access the net urgently.

AshlynM's avatar

For all you know, he could be a seasoned hacker and you could be opening up all kinds of opportunities for this guy. Not exactly sure what he can do, but please don’t do it. Tell him to go to the library or Starbucks instead.

xnightflowerx's avatar

Surprised they would even be kind enough to ask you. If your wifi is open then they’d have no need to ask then to just be polite.

I stole wifi from every single neighbor on my block with an open connection, when one stopped showing up or working for whatever reason I picked a different spot on the front curb in the middle of the night or sat against the fence in my back yard while I browsed the internet. One of my friend’s lived near me and I would go to his house alot to use their internet, and they told me I could come use it whenever, I told them I’d come sit at the picnic tables at the ice cream shop next to their house and use it in the middle of the night. They didn’t care, the cops stopped and asked me what I was doing many times but didn’t care, then I went too early one night and the shop owner was driving by and was an absolute dick face to me for sitting on his picnic table, thinking I wanted to steal his ice cream? I dunno, lol. And he’s my friend’s landlord too and flipped his shit on me when I said I’d just go say hello to them and sit on their porch.

Anyways, I probably wouldn’t let someone have constant access to my wifi unless I knew them. But if they had the decency to ask I’d see what exactly they needed it for. I mean if they just wanted to check a few things or order something or whatever I’d probably let them come over and use my computer while I was there.

MrItty's avatar

@elbanditoroso it also doesn’t mean you’re going to hand a random stranger your wallet just because he asks. There’s being rational, and there’s being stupid.

rebbel's avatar

Those were some very informative answers you all gave me.
Thanks for that!
I decided, thanks to this thread, to not allow them access.
Their reasons probably are legitimate but since I can’t be sure I cannot take the risk I feel.

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