General Question

Megan64's avatar

What are the disadvantages to having an unsecured wireless network?

Asked by Megan64 (5826points) November 24th, 2008

By that I mean not requiring a password to use the wireless in my home. Are there any worst-case scenarios I should be aware of? I live in a fairly suburban area.

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12 Answers

eambos's avatar

People can easily connect and get free Internet, which can considerably slow your connection down. Also, if somome gets your IP they’ll easily be able to get into your computer and documents. You should definitely secure your network.

tonedef's avatar

Also, if someone does some sneaky-deaky piracy while connected to your WAN, you will be held accountable. A stranger on my network got me into hot water because she was downloading episodes of “The Sopranos.” I had to plead with my ISP to turn my service back on.

Megan64's avatar

Yikes! Thanks.

mark2100's avatar

Someone “getting your IP” is not a valid concern. You send an email, the recipient has your IP. You surf a website, it has your IP.

If your ISP turns you off, take them to court. An unsecured wifi point in your home is the only remaining defense against anti-filesharing groups like the RIAA.

EmpressPixie's avatar

The advantage is that you provide a nice service to total strangers.
The disadvantage is that you provide a nice service to total strangers.

I kept mine open for a long time as a mild form of protest (I live next to a hotel and was giving a service to those staying there because what hotels charge is ridiculous). But then “virus network” moved in upstairs. I don’t care why they decided to call their network that—even if it was just to stop people from trying to use it—I’m not about to keep my network open with that baby running. So I secured.

wilhel1812's avatar

It could get slow, and there’s a small chance people could hack into your computer if you are a very stupid person. I’d concern more about the bandwidth :) You could also consider having an unsecured network but not broadcast it. that will make things easier and people won’t steal your bandwidth

Likeradar's avatar

@wilhel- I’m interested in this question too as my building just started offering free (unsecured) internet… What does a computer owner being “very stupid” have to do with it? Are there basic security precautions one should know about before using an unsecured network?

dynamicduo's avatar

By having your wifi unsecured, anyone can use it. This has benefits and problems.

Benefits: people who come over will not have to enter a password to use your internet on their devices, you do not need to remember a password as well. (This point can be negated because often your computer will remember the password of a secured network and auto-log you in.)

Problems: people can use your internet for scrupulous purposes (illegal downloading, trafficking child porn) and the trail for these activities leads to you. Also if you pay for bandwidth or if you have a limit of number of gigabytes you can transfer each month, you may find yourself with a large bill and be forced to pay it.

Snoopy's avatar

To further this discussion…
It is my understanding the WPA encryption is more secure than WEP.

My ISP has helped me set up WEP…but says to do WPA I am “on my own”.

Is WEP good enough?

eambos's avatar

As long as no one really really wants to get into your internet, you should be fine.

Snoopy's avatar

@eambos Thanks. I think.


wilhel1812's avatar

When saying that you have to be really stupid to get your computer hacked over the internet, i meant that you will have to enable file sharing without password protection or with a password easy to find. This won’t be a problem for most people, 1 because they don’t do that and 2 because no one’s really that interested in fucking up your computer.

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