Wireless internet

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I got a (very) nice laptop computer for Christmas/my birthday, it has wi fi.
I know very little about Wi Fi, when I'm upstairs in my computer room it
shows 2 "hotspots" 1 secure, 1 not. I tried to see if I could connect on the
unsecure one.......yep!!! I have no idea how to find who (or what) it
belongs to, but with all the "nasties" that can happen to a computer, I
would like to inform the person (or business) it belongs to let them know
that my laptop picked up the signal. How would I do this? Would I have to
"buy" a program? Or would I be able to download a (free) program? I would be
heart-broken if something happened to my new laptop, I have been wanting on
for a very long time (about 10 yrs) I don't want my laptop (or me) to get in
trouble. Any info would be very helpful, please e-mail me at
theyellowshoe@sw.rr.com with "Wi Fi signal" in the subject line.
Thank you all for your time.

Re: Wireless internet

Tammy Fontenot wrote:

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Hello again, Tammy.

As I suggested when you posted a similar message in the "First time
wireless user" thread over on alt.internet wireless a few days ago,
connecting to someone else's network just because its open isn't a good
idea, for the reasons I gave in that response.  Also, your first
priority when you go online with a new machine should be to get its
security and anti-malware features up to date.  Not doing this could put
your computer and data at risk, especially when you're connected to an
unknown network.

 >I have no idea how to find who (or what) it
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Outside of making the rounds of your neighbors and asking them directly,
I can't think of a way.  Assuming we're talking about a Windows machine,
you can get an idea of how close the access point in question is by
double-clicking the wireless network icon in your system tray (the one
down near the lower right corner of the screen that looks like a
computer screen with waves emanating from it; it will produce a popup
that reads "Wireless Network Connection..." when you "mouse over" it
with the cursor), then clicking the "View Wireless Networks" button and
looking at how many green bars show to the right of each network name.
The more bars, the stronger and closer the signal.  Incidentally, if you
didn't disconnect from that open network after you first found it, your
computer may automatically connect to it when it detects it again.  If
this is the case, you should first double-click the network in the list
and disconnect from it so your machine doesn't auto-connect to it again.
  Your wireless network icon should then have a red X over it,
indicating you're not connected to a network.  You can still check the
signal strength without connecting.

By the way, it's good that you want to do this.  Better your neighbors
hear this from you than from their ISP, who may well "notify" them by
disconnecting them for violating their terms of service.  Best of luck
finding them and letting them know.

Re: Wireless internet

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Well, if the SSID isn't something obvious like "Peterson", then you pretty
much have to walk around and ask people.  You can take your laptop with you
and see in which direction the signal gets stronger or weaker to narrow down
the search.

Just because someone has an open access point doesn't imply their own
computers are necessarily "wide open" as well, although I'd certainly agree
that if the SSID is still something like "linksys" or "netgear" there's a good
chance you're dealing with someone who isn't particularly security conscious
and you'll be doing them a favor by talking to them about it.

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An open access point can't get _your_ laptop into any more trouble than any
old Internet connection can.  In fact, in most cases it tends to get you into
less trouble because you're probably behind a NAT router that inherently
provides some protection vs. being directly "on" the Internet as you would be
with your laptop directly connected to a DSL, cable, or dial-up modem.

Re: Wireless internet

Joel Kolstad wrote:

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The operative word here is "probably."  You're assuming a little bit
about whomever owns that open access point.  He, she or they may be-and
admittedly probably are-just as new to all this as the original
poster,and thus not even know what NAT (network address translation) is
or why it's important.  On the other hand, the operator(s) could
possibly be of a sinister bent in which case someone connectiing an
improperly secured machine to the AP indeed *could* get  into a *peck*
of trouble through an attack from the *network*  side of the router..
(Remember, Tammy, as I pointed out to someone else in the thread over in
the other group that they'll know your IP address, and can thus more
easily break into your machine if you don't have it set up to protect
against this.)  Granted, it isn't a likely scenario, but by no means is
it impossible, and there's no good reason to risk it.

Even NAT, however, won't protect an unpatched Windows system from
Web-based malware attacks, which is why I suggested in my previous post
in this particular thread that the original poster should concentrate on
making sure she has her Windows updates current before she does anything

Re: Wireless internet

On 05 Jan 2006 in comp.sys.laptops, Jonathan L. Parker wrote:

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it impossible, and there's no good reason to risk it.

And even if there's no malice involved, there could easily be a pest-
infested machine on the network site, just looking for other machines to

Joe Makowiec
http://makowiec.org /
Email: http://makowiec.org/contact/?Joe

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