Wireless Network Administration: Freeloaders
Freeloaders are intruders who want to piggyback on your wireless network to get free access to the Internet. If they manage to gain access to your wireless network, they probably won’t do anything malicious: They’ll just fire up their web browsers and surf the Internet. These are folks who are too cheap to buy their own broadband connection at home, they’d rather drive into your parking lot and steal yours.
Even though freeloaders may be relatively benign, they can be a potential source of trouble. In particular:
Freeloaders use bandwidth that you’re paying for. As a result, their mere presence can slow down Internet access for your legitimate users.
After freeloaders gain Internet access through your network, they can potentially cause trouble for you or your organization. For example, they may use your network to download illegal pornography. Or they may try to send spam via your mail server.
Most ISPs will cut you off cold if they catch you sending spam, and they won’t believe you when you tell them the spam came from a kid parked in a Pinto out in your parking lot.
If you’re in the business of selling access to your wireless network, freeloaders are obviously a problem.
Freeloaders may start out innocently looking for free Internet access. But once they get in, curiosity may get the better of them, leading them to snoop around your network.
If freeloaders can get in, so can more malicious intruders.