Why Bruce Schneier Having An Open Wi-Fi Network Is No Good Reason For You To

Bruce Schneier, cryptography king, keeps his home network open. And despite what Tim Lee wrote in support of the idea, please don’t listen.

The justification is that the risk of someone using your network for illegal means is very low, while the risk of you getting hacked at the local coffee shop is potentially higher. Hence, worry about your machine, not your home connection.

I say BLAH! This piss poor argument ignores two significant points:

1) There is little or no benefit to you from opening your network; and

2) It takes minimal effort to secure your network with a password.

The risks may be low, but meanwhile you have nothing to gain. Meanwhile, the effort necessary to provide that little extra layer of protection likely outweighs the cost of that single long tail incident – one that could potential cause you tons of legal hassles.

If you are hell bent on providing web access to home visitors, I’ll take for granted that you trust them. Give them the key, like I do. Or if you’re wearing a tinfoil hat as you hand them their coffee, ask them to allow you to type it in yourself.

UPDATE: Being open can cause hassles (unless you don’t consider having your computer confiscated by less than technology savvy law enforcement officers a hassle).


Andrew Hammond says:

Unless you happen to have and host only Macs, WPA is _not_ a minimal effort. It’s a pain in the ass. WEP is easy to use, but it’s also laughably easy to penetrate. That makes it _worse_ than running unsecured since you no longer can claim to be a common-carrier if it ever becomes a legal issue. Not many people have the technical know how to do it properly by putting up a firewall with a VPN aggregater and then running their WiFi as a hostile network. And that’s even _more_ of a pain in the ass for guests.

Anyway, if enough people adopt the practice of running open wi-fi spots it makes the world a better place.

Michael Gracie says:

Not sure I agree on all accounts.

Admittedly, WPA/2 is a snap on Macs, and a bit harder on Windows XP. I’ve seen it myself, as some guests who don’t run frequent updates on newer laptops have taken fifteen minutes or more to link up (including getting updated, of course). However, my next door neighbors work from home, and their DSL goes down once in a while. They have my key, and they’ve never had a problem getting in. They’re running XP on corporate managed machines (meaning they are always newer and updated). And they use my connection to get through to their company VPN with no problem at all.

Maybe it’s more about keeping hardware/software up-to-date than anything else?

PS: And yes…WEP is a joke. But it’s also a joke to even bother trying to hack through it.

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