Are there any WiFi-enabled criminals…

Are there any WiFi-enabled criminals out there?  Someone would like to speak with you; please read:

As many of you are quite well aware, whenever you sit down at a conference or hotel or park or cafe or harbor with “open WiFi”, your network activity is possibly being recorded and reviewed by someone else very close to you.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist: it’s trivial to do such things with tools such as this one.

Personal sniffing of open WiFi networks might ultimately be ruled legal, or might not.  (Ask yourself: is there a “reasonable expecation of privacy” on open WiFi networks?  Would you send attorney/client privileged information on an open WiFi network?)  Of course, if you did it, I can assure you that you’d quickly come to the conclusion that doing so is of a questionable ethical nature: your jaw will drop as you see peoples’ XML-RPC blog passwords and private email messages flying by.

WiFi sniffing is EASY to do, it is commonly done, and the real question is at what point will someone do real damage by using what they sniff, and when will this be brought to the public’s eye by the courts or by congress? 

Think about it.  How long will it take before someone starts methodically wardriving in front of major politicians’ or executives’ homes, looking for open access points and sniffing interesting traffic by sitting in their car across the street each evening?  Don’t you think it’s already happening?

In 1997, a cell phone conversation of Newt Gingrich was recorded by a scanner user and the tape was turned over to the media. This spawned bills HR1964 and HR2369 threatening to end scanning as a hobby.  Would a major WiFi-catalyzed insider trading scandal, or political scandal cause new laws to be passed that might change the wireless data landscape as we know it?  It seems like just a matter of time before we’ll find out.

In the meantime, I’ve been contacted by a big-name business publication that is considering writing an article about this subject.  But instead of talking to “industry experts”, they’d like instead to talk to someone who is actively sniffing open WiFi networks for personal gain.  Based upon the reputation of the publication, it seems quite likely that confidentiality will be preserved.  978.336.0235 [Ray Ozzie’s Weblog]