Is your wireless network airtight?

Thursday, 15 May 2003, 11:12 AM EST

I'm sitting with my ThinkPad in a Starbucks near Akasaka. The cafe isn't advertised as a WLAN hot spot, so I'm pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying high-speed Internet access courtesy of some nearby wireless network.

I open up the WLAN properties on my XP-equipped notebook and have a look. The network name that appears is a cryptic collection of alphanumeric text that doesn't lend any clues as to the source, but as there's no encryption key for the network I'm able to enjoy unrestricted, anonymous access to it.

Further giving in to curiosity, I browse the Windows network and discover a domain called WORKGROUP. Browsing further I find two computers inside and eventually I have unrestricted access to the entire file system of the remote computer.

Without really trying, I have tapped into a fully exposed wireless network serving two equally exposed Windows computers, and I'm just getting started. Next I make a note of the IP address that's been assigned to my computer and guess at the IP address of the wireless access point.

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