back to article Police collar kid for Wi-Fi pinching

Lincolnshire police have arrested a 16-year-old suspected of hacking into next door's Wi-Fi after his neighbour complained the connection was running a bit slow. Police arrived at the lad's house after nine o'clock on Sunday October 5, and arrested him under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. The youngster was then questioned until …

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That's the annoying part

It's OK to leave your connection wide open for abuse because basically if anyone dares to use it and you can prove it, they are in the wrong for unlawful usage.

Let's try that with my car or house, when all my stuff gets nicked and I ask the insurance company to pay out for my stupidity?

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Channels

Ah, so the spotty internet connection is nothing to do with four people on channel six and the other three on channel 11? Teh Haxx0Rz

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Paris Hilton

Poor lad

Teenage lad - laptop of his own. Oh, I wouldn't want that laptop sent to forensics if I was him....

...and I assume the forensics bods will be wearing latex gloves...

Paris, cos she's almost definitely in the lad's IE cache....

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Volunteers?

Any El Reg readers going to volunteer as expert witnesses? I would if I thought my formal academic credentials would be taken at all seriously (a bit of BASIC programming at University and an OU level 1 course).

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@AC

At least you were smart enough to post as AC, even though you weren't smart enough to notice how poor your analogy was.

An insurance company has a contract with you, the terms of which would almost certainly require you to take certain actions to be able to claim payment. This is in no way related to any criminal matter or proceedings.

If your car was left unlocked it would still be a crime if someone was to steal it.

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder is it a BT connection...

Wow, those neighbours must really hate each other, any idea why the neighbour just didnt go round to their house and tell the father and get him to give him a cuff around the head for being a teenager and not do it again, maybe ask how to secure their Wifi since they seem to be a bunch of pricks?

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Pirate

Plodders

Silly Plods. There's a *reason* you get in touch with your computer crime unit before you go meddling in things you don't have the merest whiff of a hope of understanding that you don't understand.

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@Neil Hoskins

Why not, you're obviously more qualified that the bloke who speculated about "hackers"...

I hate self appointed computer "experts"

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Massive overreaction

All that was necessary was to enable encryption and MAC filtering, problem solved. If you leave your network open you deserve all that happens to you.

Efros

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IT Angle

1st AC

What's insurance got to do with it.

If I leave my house unlocked and you steal my tele, it's still theft and the police will still prosecute you.

From what I understand of the computer misuse act, like most other laws it doesn't allow ignorance as a defence, so mistakenly connecting to and using someone elses connection is technically an offence.

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Pirate

lock out

In my nefarious youth (not that long ago, hence anon.), me and a mate of mine were looking at the all the poorly secured wifi we could get in my flat. I had my own, but for a laugh got into someone else's. (WEP is easy to crack).

To compound the issue, we were able to easily identify the model of router used (as the default SSIDs were helpful like that in the old days), then went online got the manual and tried to get into the router with the default password... sure enough in we go and completely change all the security on it to lock out the owner.

I don't loose sleep over it the owner should have secured it, and we didn't use their connection for anything, it was the fun of getting in. Also a full factory restore would have sorted it, back it's insecure state.

Poor lad, should have done his research first.

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Linux

Clueless plods again?

Yet again plod shows that he doesn't have the mental equipment to deal with tech crime.

So we are supposed to believe that this 'hacker' was smart enough to crack into his neighbour's router and "remove the encryption", but didn't have the smarts to hide his computer's ID or clear the router's DHCP table.

As to why would you bother to remove an already cracked encryption?

Well, if you were really devious I suppose you could then claim that the router was 'open' anyway, and you connected accidentally. If you left the 'encryption' in place then you'd have no excuses.

Icon has nothing to do with Linux. Its the top of a comedy policeman's helmet.

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Alert

Terriost!

Clearly this young lad was trying to circumvent his own Phorm infested connection. Sounds like a case for the Anti-terrorist police.

Right me lad'o 40 days detention for you which we try and figure all this out.

Clearly this is a very serious offence. Mug a granny and they don't even send somebody after you. Steal Wi-Fi. Now that's hardcore

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Paris Hilton

If its locked its private

If its locked with any form of encryption (however weak or strong) its private and any access is against the law, if it is left open then its public it is up to the owner to secure it.

Seems pretty clear to me that that is the way the law should go. Why does it seem the authorities cant get their heads around it.

If you dont want anyone piggy-backing your connection lock it.

Paris : Well you would wouldn't you...

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Expert Witnessing

I did quite a lot of work in the mid 90s as an IT expert witness for various police forces and private bodies, and I have to say it was some of the most interesting and enjoyable work I did. Some of my work involved accopanying police on actual raids where my advice was taken as to what items should be siezed or not. I took particular pride in trying to make sure that the police didn't just take everything, lock it away for months and then return it if there was nothing incriminating - for example in one raid on a home-office, there were several computers, one in the kid's bedroom I decided to examine in situ (with a boot floppy - things were easier back then) - determined pretty quickly that geography homework was unlikely related to the case, so advised they leave that computer behind.

Now, this is a decade later, the police do most of this now in-house, and I find it quite shocking that they don't have enough experience now to figure out that accidential connection to an insecure wireless network is perfectly understandable.

How can they be sending officers to deal with a computer crime who do not understand the basics? Even back in the 90s when I was working, the police I were working with all had a pretty good understanding of IT (I remember one of them wanted to register 'thefilth.com' to use for his email address, but domains cost a fortune back then!). The police do have the right people to deal with these things (and in cases like this, explain calmly and carefully to the complainant that there is no offence taking place), it seems in this case the case was put on to the wrong people, and that's where the real fault lies.

Jolyon

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Black Helicopters

Cautions...

Kudos to the Dad for refusing the Caution because that would have been an admission of guilt, even though the Police seemingly try to convince people that it's not a big deal.

Of course what it really means is "we don't have to do any more investigation and chalk up another successfully resolved crime to make our figures look better..."

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Annoying, but not entirely silly

As for the car: My car drives itself, and accidentally gets on the wrong lane. I'd much prefer if people tried to tell me something's not right before the police pulled me over and yelled at me to hold my hands above my head.

This is assuming he did in fact accidentally connect to the wrong network (plenty of setups just look for the strongest open connection) - of course you're responsible for the actions of your system, but $neighbour could've been less of an ass and more human about it by trying to ask nicely. A complex feat, but it's been known to help.

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@Neil Hoskins

And now, thanks to the reg, we all know OU computing certificates aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

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Think first, act later

An investigation might be justified if, having explained the problem, a person deliberately continues using the wrong connection. But its just wasting police time to put in a complaint if the person hasn't yet even been requested to stop.

The police ought to recognise this, and their first question on receiving such a report should be "have you asked them to stop".

This was not a matter of life or deat, just an easy excuse for not doing one of the thousand and one far more important things that police officers SHOULD be doing but usually don't.

The police need to rethink their priorities and start dealing with the REAL problems.

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Whatever happened to...

Realising next door's teenage lad has connected to your network, going next door, politely knocking on the door, inform lad or his parent of what happened and ask him to stop?

And then maybe, just maybe, turning on the encryption on your Router?

Have people utterly lost the ability to behave as civilised adults and communicating as such?

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Credible

Last time I did a site survey I saw two unsecured wifi networks and three using WEP. I'm in Lincoln.

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Anonymous Coward

A slow night for crime in Lincs

Sadly, I suspect that if the neighbour had been subject to vandalism & burglary the police may not have been as active in their nocturnal exploits. The police have a dificult enough job maintaining public confidence - they don't need to do this to themselves.

Sounds like the father was a bit too sharp for the Police - but let's see how it all resolves rather than jumping to conclusions. I'd like to think I'd have the confidence to support my son in the reported circumstances.

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Gates Horns

Just being good to thy neighbour

I live in a similar spot. 7 networks on display and 2 of them not secure. So I popped around and advised them to secure it and if they werent sure.. set it up for them : ) But then he should have checked with Daddy first if he set-up the laptop. But let me guess was this Vista?

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Anonymous Coward

Lazy rozzers

If Plod has a suspicion of anything at all, they like to cart you off to the nick in the hope that you will confess your guilt to Big Daddy regardless of the situation. A bonus is they filch your DNA and fingerprints to feed the Computer. Wrongful arrest? They don't give a fk, it costs them far more to pay for rozzers on long-term sick.

They really ought to read more widely. Saturday night before throwing-out time is a good time.

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DNA Database

More to the point, will the father be able to get his DNA removed from the Ministry of Truth's database?

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Anonymous Coward

The caution should not have been asked for

It's a good job his dad refused to let him take the caution. That would show up on these Wacki Jacqui background checks for many jobs and he'd be refused employment.

So he thinks caution as in a warning, but it's not, it's admission of the crime obtained in the absence of legal advice. Given how Wacki Jacqui has added in the extended background check which shows cautions to potential employers, nobody should accept a caution just for an easy life.

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@Eponymous Cowherd

"Well, if you were really devious I suppose you could then claim that the router was 'open' anyway"

But if you removed the encryption any devices the neighbour already had setup with encryption would all stop working, no?

Wouldnt exactly be inconspicuous, would it.

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Anonymous Coward

Great Police Work

I suppose not many speeding motorists doing 32 in a 30 zone on a Sunday night, so the police can pat themselves on the back for some more great police work.

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Pirate

Router meltdown ?

Of course we could not condone purchasing a nice powerful wireless router, preferably one that allows more than the 10mW EIRP limit, popping it on the same channel as his neighbours router and spamming the nuts of the wireless by creating a lot of broadcast traffic (arp?) on that network.

Not sure if it would work, but it's a start down the revenge path and perhaps a step on to the BOFH learning curve for our young Padawan.

Or just take this snips to next doors broadband feed, what ever works for you... Of course this would be illegal but 4th Nov is coming up, I'm sure the filth will be far too busy that night to be concerned about it.

But...

Flaming bag of dog poop FTW !

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Surely he asked permission....

Since DHCP is a request for an address...

Laptop: "Hello base station can I play?"

Base: "Certainly, here's an address and here's a dns server and here's how to get to the world."

So, this is like finding a pie cooling on a widow ledge and asking "Can I have a slice?" to which the owner replies "sure, help yourself!" So NO CRIME HAS BEEN COMMITTED!!!

Any half decent lawyer could argue this out of court.

It's simple. If you leave a base station un-encrypted with dhcp enabled then surely you are inviting people to use your connection?

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Coat

whats wifi?

Is that how i can access facebook without those wire thingies

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Black Helicopters

Easy enough...

A few weeks ago I couldn't see part of my network. Found out that I needed to reset my wifi. BUT it took time to notice because my machine had automatically logged me into a neighbours totally insecure connection. So it can happen.

And as for the caution - right - never accept one unless you are guilty. Once got road raged, ID'd the car and a copper said he would go and issue a caution. Then a much wiser plod told me that in that case it would be just as much work as making an arrest, etc as the guy can just deny it. Cos if he accepted it it goes on his record...

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Black Helicopters

Hat's off to the dad

Despite what they may say, a caution, due to Jaqui "Goosestepper" Smith, now means that you are pretty much shaffted for life, foever appearing on the all seeing .gov.uk database. Your life forever to be blighted by a double click to far....

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Flame

Another of the ultra paranoid nearly gets their wet dream!

Just like the guy who complained to IT that his computer was bugged (by a USB to PS2 adapter it turned out) while not wanting anti-spyware to remove his Smiley toolbar! This guy nearly got that kid next door a criminal record for clicking the wrong network.

Remember you only have to connect to get a DHCP lease, he may have never downloaded a byte of Internet routed data let alone any from other devices on the WLAN.

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Stop

Aren't cautions for 18+ years-old?

...At least that's what some unreliable do-it-yourself encyclopedia tells me...

Oh, here's an official website giving the same info:

http://tinyurl.com/6coxf4

Criteria for a simple caution

9. When deciding if a simple caution is appropriate, a police officer must answer the following questions: [...]

*Is the suspect 18 years of age or older at the time the caution is to be administered[4]? Where a suspect is under 18, a Reprimand or Warning would be the equivalent disposal, as per the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

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Coat

FIVE TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD!

He clearly had it coming when he sniffed around other's networks to download his paedo-porn, the little terrorist-scum.

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RE: Volunteers?

I have a GCFA, would that do? :-D I wonder where the laptop was actually sent though...

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Unsecured == invitation

If you look at the details of WiFi, you will see that the standard unsecured protocol is equivalent to putting up a sign saying: "Free access to pool. Please come in and swim, we will even provide swimwear and towel".

Also, wifi access points rarely tell you beforehand if they are private, public or public but not free (i.e., will take you to a screen that asks for your credit card number). At best, you will be told if a key is required and if encryption is used, but that is not the same as telling you if it is legal to access it without prior permission.

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Idiot

If the idiot cannot set up his wireless network, that's his problem. It's not rocket science. It is possible to accidentally connect of course to open networks (it's happened to me), but if he leaves it wide open when it should be private, he's asking for trouble.

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Here's an idea

All the Router/modem manufacturers could make the dafault WAP name "Use Freely If Not Encrypted"

It's only greedy mass market ISP's who object to connection sharing.

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Analogies

It is very easy to mix up analogies when discussing this topic. Some are completely wrong, some are close to the mark.

@The first comment, comparing it to leaving your house/car unlocked: This is actually quite close. Its is still a crime if someone nicks the car/your telly. Its your own stupid fault, but it's still a crime and the theif (if caught, something the police aren't so good at... whats their job description again?) would be prosecuted. Your insurance would not pay out because you were a dumb f**k, but a crime has still been committed.

Same applies to wifi: Leave your router open, and you desrve to have it piggybacked. Leave it open, and leave unsecured shares on your network, with files containing all your personal details etc... you deserve to have your identity stolen, your important documents deleted etc.

However I also agree with Matthew Robinson' comment: The DHCP server was asked for an address, it granted it. It sould be argued that this constitutes an agreement that you may use the network. If a gateway is included, it could be argued you are being invited to use their internet connection. I doubt a court would see it that way.

Bottom line: If you don't want people on your wifi, don't leave it unsecured, and don't use DHCP without MAC filtering. If you're stupid enough to leave the door to your house open and a note on the dorr telling people where all your decent stuff is (equivalent of open wifi and open DHCP) you are an eejit who desrves all he gets.

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@Steve

>>If I leave my house unlocked and you steal my tele, it's still theft and the police will still prosecute you.

Actually they'll more likely give you a letter saying "Sorry your telly was stolen, please contact your insurer." Unless it was their turn to be on Channel 4's "Plods in Action", in which they'd rush off to arrest the actor they sent to nick it.

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Standard police procedure

I remember a kid at school claiming that I'd damaged his blazer/bag or something and his parents calling the police.

An officer came round to our house and just sat there for an hour trying to pressure me into confessing to it. After the third time he told me that it would be "easier for everyone if I just admitted it" even my Daily Mail reading father decided that maybe the police weren't always right and asked him to leave.

They always think they can push kids into accepting a caution so that they don't have to bother with the more tedious task of actually making a case.

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Stop

Something doesn't add up...

The article says the boy wasn't techie enough to change his computer name, but apparently he can hack an encrypted router and disable it's protection????

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so what's my redress if ...

I didn't want to log onto his network? However his router logged my comp in without my consent and gave me a IP number I didn't want or need. It exposed my computer to internet hackers and malware when I just turned on my laptop to play a game of offline Civ. Does this computer misuse stuff work both ways?

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@Steve

Ignorance of the existence of the law is not a defence, ignorance that what you are doing is against the law sometimes is. e.g., handling stolen goods, if you are unaware that the goods are stolen then that is a defence. I haven't read the Computer Misuse Act so I don't know, but it is possible that being unaware that you have connected to someone else's network is a defence.

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@N1AK

No, the analogy was excellent.

Someone really has stolen your stuff. They cannot have done it accidentally. But this case the kid doesn't know which net he's on. In this case too, nothing has been stolen. If you want to consider "reduced capability" "stealing" then please get the plod squad onto the ISP for caps, downtime and all other forms of "stealing" of your connection.

So why is it that if you're burgled, your insurance won't pay a dime if you left the door open? Because you should have secured it.

Same with your WiFi.

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Check the router instructions [the ones that nobody reads]

At least one I read said something like "enabling encryption will ensure only specific users are allowed to connect" i.e. if you don't enable encryption you are allowing anyone to connect, this would indicate implicit permission for anyone to connect, obviously the wording would have to imply permission, but that's a test case I'd love to see.

Interestingly enough, if you allow a user to use your network you are responsible for what they do, downloading porn, hacking etc. (computer misuse act, vicarious liability), but what if they have implicit use? there's more 'interesting' test cases out there which I'm sure we'll see eventually, and the law just ain't up to speed yet.

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@Steve

"If I leave my house unlocked and you steal my tele, it's still theft and the police will still prosecute you."

What if the house has the same number, same street and same furniture and appearance as their own house? What if they thought because of this it WAS their house. And they went and ate some food and had a bath (food like they would buy and a bathroom with the same sort of stuff in). Is that stealing?

NO.

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RE: so what's my redress if ...

Don't know if you're actually being serious or joking... I certainly hope the latter!

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