Is It OK To Use Your Neighbor’s Wi-Fi? [Poll]

polls   Is It OK To Use Your Neighbors Wi Fi? [Poll]

Last week we asked you what version of Windows you are running. We had 1,394 responses. I was shocked at the results! It looks like 47% of you or 652 readers are using Windows 7!  Windows XP came in second place with 36% or  500 votes. I had expected Windows XP to still be in the lead, as most companies are still using it as their main operating system.

Third place was held by Windows Vista and then there were 13 votes for Windows 2000, 9 votes for Windows 98/ME, 8 votes for Windows 95 and 6 votes for Windows NT.


7 of you said you were using older versions of Windows and according to the comments that include Windows 3.11! Very interesting indeed. I personally have a XP desktop, Windows 7 tablet and various older machines running around. I am pleasantly surprised by the Windows 7 machines.

We saw our own Mark O’Neill having issues with it in the comments. If you want my advice, get a new hard drive and do a clean install of Windows 7!

Here are the full poll results:

pollresp7   Is It OK To Use Your Neighbors Wi Fi? [Poll]

This week’s poll is asking you if it is OK to use your neighbor’s Wi-Fi. ¬†Open access points or easily hackable WEP access points are hard to resist, especially if you are strapped for cash.

There are a lot of reasons not to steal Wi-Fi. You can have your data stolen or contract a virus. The network you are connecting to could be set up to do harm to you.¬† I have set up many wireless networks that push users’ DNS queries to bring them to being rickrolled regardless of what they type in.

Then there is the breach of your neighbor’s contract with their Internet provider. They agree not to share their Internet connection with others via open networks.

On the other hand if you have no Internet and your neighbor has left their Wi-Fi access point wide open, it is hard to resist.  We have people that would rather use their neighbors net instead of paying $50 or even $80 a month. Over the course of a year that all adds up. So what is a regular Joe supposed to do?

Our morals should tell us stealing is wrong but some people say that it is NOT stealing.  Is it stealing? Is it wrong?

What do you do? We would love to hear from you in the comments as well!

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

49 Comments -

MikeL

If its unsecured WiFi, then thats their problem for leaving it open, is my view on it. But I don’t use other peoples WiFi unless I have to. But if its open and unsecure, don’t feel bad about using it at all.

Jack Cola

What happens if your neighbour is elderly, doesn’t know how to use a computer much, only email and there on a plan that gives 200mb a month with excess charges.

What happens if you know your neighbour? Will you still steal there wifi?

MikeL

In the US no one has such small limits as that, smallest cap is like 40gb a month, not counting mobile broadband plans. Even considering that, I wouldn’t download huge files on a neighbors WiFi, if anything I’d check my email for ten minutes. But if elderly and 200mb/month were the case, no I wouldn’t use it, and if I knew her I’d tell her how to secure it.

Jack Cola

In Australia, Telstra – the company that owns most of the telecommunication infrastructure, the sub company of it Bigpond, had it’s entry level broadband plan at 200mb with 15cents/mb excess usage. However, a few months ago, they updated it to 2gb as there entry plan.

Chase

i have a 12gb cap.

amonkey

Then the elderly neighbor shouldn’t have a computer.

Would you have a gun, and not know how to use it?

Besides, the ISP should set things up properly.

David

Or, to put it another way, if it’s an open front door, then it’s within my rights to walk through and use their water and electricity, and that’s their problem for leaving it open. Or, if they’ve left the keys in the car, it’s within my rights to take it for a quick spin around the block before they notice.

In other words, that logic is flawed. Unless they’ve given you explicit permission to use their connection, to use it is tantamount to trespassing. While you aren’t necessarily depriving them of the use of their resources, you are taxing them. In many cases, this costs them additional money.

Michael

I was thinking the exact same thing. Not to say that I have never done it, but I’d bet that we have all done something that we just knew wasn’t right. I was having trouble getting my router to work, but I was getting a signal from a neighbor. I still was paying for my own connection, but I couldn’t bring my laptop in another room. I did get my router to work now, so I don’t have a need to “borrow” anymore. :)

amonkey

That being said, their “water” is seeping into my house because they left their faucet on. If I use that water, I am now stealing what is theirs.

BS, if you are seeping anything into my house it is mine and I will use it how I choose.

David

“BS” – no reason to get snarky. That said, I respectfully disagree, just off the top of my head, on the basis of availability of resources and potential and real harm.

A wi-fi signal “seeping” into your house does not, in any way currently understood, proven or believed (aside from the aluminum foil hat wearing set) deprive you of the use of your house. It does not in any way currently understood, proven or believed, damage your property, or cost you money in lost time or increased effort. The seeping of their water into your property does.

On the other hand, using the internet connection for which they have paid via their wi-fi signal does carry the potential of depriving them of resources in terms of available bandwidth, and costing them money by way of bandwidtch overuse charges. To say nothing of the legal liability were you to use their connection for illegal purposes.

The example that equates damaging water leaks to benign wi-fi leaks is a flawed example that does not take into account the potential for harm.

Anonymous

I apologize. I should have been clear as to what I was referring as “BS”..

“to use it is tantamount to trespassing”

And no, I do not currently believe any of the available wi-fi signals are harmful.

However, as I am not referring to any damages being done via water or wireless, my point is, they are allowing their wireless to enter my house without my consent. I believe it is my right to use it as they have done nothing to prevent my access.

I do have my own Internet connection. As the basic “high-speed” that is available in my area tops at out at 40k down and 7k up.

However, my son really enjoys my neighbors branch that over hangs our fence. Though the neighbor did try to legally have us remove the tire swing, he was instructed he could remove the branch at his own expense as we were within our rights based on the property laws.

I agree wholeheartedly that using a neighbors Internet for illegal activities is wrong in more ways than one. That said, using your own connection for illegal activities is wrong.

Jack Cola

What happens if your neighbour is elderly, doesn’t know how to use a computer much, only email and there on a plan that gives 200mb a month with excess charges.

What happens if you know your neighbour? Will you still steal there wifi?

Anonymous

I’ve only ever used a Neighbors wifi on a few when we had no internet for 2 weeks after moving house. To make myself feel better i am saying that it is their fault for not having it secure (they unsecured it themselves, sky routers come pre-configured with WPA).

As soon as it goes to the hacking side of using wifi i think it is completely wrong, no matter what your financial predicament is. I’m going to say anyone who does it is just a common thief.. Their typical excuse is finance as well.

jollyrogue

I’ve only ever used a Neighbors wifi on a few when we had no internet for 2 weeks after moving house. To make myself feel better i am saying that it is their fault for not having it secure (they unsecured it themselves, sky routers come pre-configured with WPA).

As soon as it goes to the hacking side of using wifi i think it is completely wrong, no matter what your financial predicament is. I’m going to say anyone who does it is just a common thief.. Their typical excuse is finance as well.

sefcug

The only time I have used a neighbor’s wi-fi, it has been with their permission. In fact, for that period they added me to their network. I only had dial up at that time and used it mainly for Microsoft Updates.

I currently have Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2go, $20 for 300 minutes, for those times I can not connect.

sefcug

The only time I have used a neighbor’s wi-fi, it has been with their permission. In fact, for that period they added me to their network. I only had dial up at that time and used it mainly for Microsoft Updates.

I currently have Virgin Mobile’s Broadband2go, $20 for 300 minutes, for those times I can not connect.

Aibek

Hey Karl, excellent poll idea!

Karl L. Gechlik

Thanks :) How did you vote buddy?

Aibek

would use in a tight situation :-) !

kevinms

i think this is ok, if my neighbors have a open access point…

FekketCantenel

When I first got my iPod Touch, I was still trying to find a wireless solution at home (we prefer ethernet). While I was figuring it out, I used my neighbor’s wifi for installing small apps and getting the device up and running.

Eventually, I figured out that you can share a Windows 7 laptop’s connection wirelessly using Connectify, and stopped having to use my neighbor’s. Therefore, I answered ‘only if in a tough spot’ on the above poll.

FekketCantenel

When I first got my iPod Touch, I was still trying to find a wireless solution at home (we prefer ethernet). While I was figuring it out, I used my neighbor’s wifi for installing small apps and getting the device up and running.

Eventually, I figured out that you can share a Windows 7 laptop’s connection wirelessly using Connectify, and stopped having to use my neighbor’s. Therefore, I answered ‘only if in a tough spot’ on the above poll.

danbo19

Please learn the difference between there their and they’re: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/m

I’m not trying to be a dick, but I cringe every time I see that.

Anonymous

I answered only in a tough spot, and I would add, if they know what they’re doing, expect to get messed with. Although if they know what they’re doing 99% of the time they will secure it anyway. I once knew someone who named their network “Click here for viruses.”

James

Would the responses be the same if the question had been, “Is it OK for your neighbor to use your Wi-Fi?”

FekketCantenel

If my neighbor was in the same spot I described above (with a new iPod touch and no wireless capability yet) I’d tell them to enjoy it and not torrent or access the other computers on the network (not that they can), and that my torrenting might sometimes slow things down.

Czadd

I really don’t trust open access points, but it used to be the only way I could afford to get on the web. People who don’t understand that they should have a password probably don’t understand how to protect their computers. That said, I have an Airport configured with a guest access point that I happily share with anyone who asks. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, “password” is the password.

Enjoy

Czadd

I really don’t trust open access points, but it used to be the only way I could afford to get on the web. People who don’t understand that they should have a password probably don’t understand how to protect their computers. That said, I have an Airport configured with a guest access point that I happily share with anyone who asks. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, “password” is the password.

Enjoy

David

Or, to put it another way, if it’s an open front door, then it’s within my rights to walk through and use their water and electricity, and that’s their problem for leaving it open. Or, if they’ve left the keys in the car, it’s within my rights to take it for a quick spin around the block before they notice.

In other words, that logic is flawed. Unless they’ve given you explicit permission to use their connection, to use it is tantamount to trespassing. While you aren’t necessarily depriving them of the use of their resources, you are taxing them. In many cases, this costs them additional money.

Dave

The only time I’ve borrowed my neighbor’s wifi was when I first moved into a new apartment and was waiting to have my own internet connected. It wasn’t a case of frivolous use, I actually had some very important emails I needed to answer and the internet cafe was closed. After my internet was hooked up I went over and introduced myself and explained to the neighbor the pitfalls of leaving their connection open and showed them how to lock it.

amonkey

That being said, their “water” is seeping into my house because they left their faucet on. If I use that water, I am now stealing what is theirs.

BS, if you are seeping anything into my house it is mine and I will use it how I choose.

amonkey

Then the elderly neighbor shouldn’t have a computer.

Would you have a gun, and not know how to use it?

Besides, the ISP should set things up properly.

amonkey

Is it ok for the ISP to provide open access by default and then tell you not to let anyone use it?

David

“BS” – no reason to get snarky. That said, I respectfully disagree, just off the top of my head, on the basis of availability of resources and potential and real harm.

A wi-fi signal “seeping” into your house does not, in any way currently understood, proven or believed (aside from the aluminum foil hat wearing set) deprive you of the use of your house. It does not in any way currently understood, proven or believed, damage your property, or cost you money in lost time or increased effort. The seeping of their water into your property does.

On the other hand, using the internet connection for which they have paid via their wi-fi signal does carry the potential of depriving them of resources in terms of available bandwidth, and costing them money by way of bandwidtch overuse charges. To say nothing of the legal liability were you to use their connection for illegal purposes.

The example that equates damaging water leaks to benign wi-fi leaks is a flawed example that does not take into account the potential for harm.

amonkey

I apologize. I should have been clear as to what I was referring as “BS”..

“to use it is tantamount to trespassing”

And no, I do not currently believe any of the available wi-fi signals are harmful.

However, as I am not referring to any damages being done via water or wireless, my point is, they are allowing their wireless to enter my house without my consent. I believe it is my right to use it as they have done nothing to prevent my access.

I do have my own Internet connection. As the basic “high-speed” that is available in my area tops at out at 40k down and 7k up.

However, my son really enjoys my neighbors branch that over hangs our fence. Though the neighbor did try to legally have us remove the tire swing, he was instructed he could remove the branch at his own expense as we were within our rights based on the property laws.

I agree wholeheartedly that using a neighbors Internet for illegal activities is wrong in more ways than one. That said, using your own connection for illegal activities is wrong.