How do I get on my neighbor's wireless network?

I have a wireless card in my laptop for the network at school. When at home, I use dial-up, and Windows XP displays a little computer monitor with an X through it at the bottom of the screen that says something like “The wireless network is not available now.”

But, just today, I got a signal! It looks like one of my neighbors got a wireless network, and it’s close enough that I’m picking up the signal. Trouble is, I’m not getting anywhere with it. It tells me the signal strength, the I.P. address, the connection speed, etc. My computer sends out packets, but can’t seem to receive any. Can anyone help me out getting a faster Internet connection?

P.S.: I know that in some towns, people put X’s in front of their houses telling passersby that they have wireless Internet, essentially inviting them to use leech. So I’m pretty sure there’s nothing wrong with this. But if this is illegal or anything, I apologize to the mods.

It’s not illegal per se, if somebody wants to let you leech off their Wi-Fi connection. Cable/DSL providers have been known to take issue with people sharing their connections that way, however.

But your dillemma probably stems from their use of WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol… or something similar). You won’t be able to hook up to their network unless you know the key. And unless it’s their birthday in reverse or something, you’re probably going to have a heck of a time brute-forcing a 128-bit WEP key on your home PC.

My suggestion: be real nice to them and ask :slight_smile: If you’re not sure who it is, maybe you can walk around with your laptop and see where the signal gets stronger.

Sorry, can’t resist.

So, you’re complaining that your free Internet isn’t fast enough? :smiley:

That’s quite a leap of reasoning. Does your neighbor have an X marked in his yard?

The people who have the wireless access aren’t the one’s putting the X on the sidewalks – it’s the wireless hitchikers that the FBI has issued a warning against who are “warchalking.” The main concern is that hackers and spammers will take adavantage of this.

The wirelss network may be active next door, but if it’s set up properly, it should be secure and you won’t be able to log on.

If your neighbor invites you to share their wireless network, it is not illegal (at least, so I would assume). I also assume, from your post, that your neighbor has not so invited you. This isn’t even morally or legally ambiguous.

Unless your neighbor has made some kind of indication that he intends for his network to be public, or has not granted you explicit permission, this certainly is illegal…This is theft of services. Just because war drivers have made a hobby of exploiting insecure networks, that doesn’t make it right.


Unless you have express permission and approval from the wireless network operator in advance, you are illegally accessing it if you make a deliberate attempt to get on their network. I really am stumped as to what conditions would have to be true in order for it to legal for you to deliberately access a neighbor’s wireless network without either their knowledge or their permission. :confused:

Um, even if he has given such permission, I’m pretty sure it’s a violation of his provider agreement. The difference is who’s in trouble.

In the vast majority of cases (cable modems and dsl in the States), this is exactly correct.

Accordingly, this thread is closed.