Schneier for the masses

Slashdot has a thread on a online Q&A session by Bruce Schneier. The questions were asked by the public. They cover a wide range of issues, from security and privacy to online businesses and identity thefts. There are LOTS of links provided that further detail the issues around each Q&A.

I generally agree with the author’s perspective on many issues; one notable exception is wireless network security. When he was asked about the benefits of securing home WiFi networks, here’s Schneier’s answer:

I run an open wireless network at home. There’s no password, and there’s no encryption. Honestly, I think it’s just polite. Why should I care if someone on the block steals wireless access from me? When my wireless router broke last month, I used a neighbor’s [sic] access until I replaced it.

WoW! That was unexpected! Of course the guys who commented the article seized upon this:

“YIKES. Speaking of not being able to utter your words lightly. The problem is not that someone is stealing your wireless access, the problem is that a malicious intruder is potentially inside your firewall.”

My philosophy is to keep the network open and secure the hosts.

— Posted by Bruce Schneier

This is Schneier’s response to a reader who complained of one of the issues that arise by giving away your connection to everyone. There are, of course,other problems, referred to by other readers in other comments, most notably, the fact that you may be (even if only partially) liable for what a malicious user does using your unprotected connection. I don’t know if that’s the case in Portugal, but I do remember this project: FON. Of course that here in Portugal, the same (rather stupid) ISP imposed limitation that makes running FON nodes obsolete does the same thing for Schneier’s view on wireless connection’s security: ISPs here will charge you not only for the broadband of your connection, but also for the actual amount of traffic you’ve used. Add to this free (as in for everybody to use) wireless connection, and you’re in for some astronomical bills…


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