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War driver fine offends Reg readers

While raunchy cartoons get censored and sued

Letters Crikey - you've been writing a lot of letters this week. Seems everyone has something they want to get off their chests. This week, you have been mostly getting upset about a five hundred quid fine for a little illicit surfing, so let's get straight to it:

And has the neighbourhood now had a visit from the local crime prevention bobby advising people how to secure their networks ? What about mesh networks, where people are encouraged to share ?

Does PC World have a sign near its Wifi boxes telling people not to use an unsecured connection ?

Does Granny tell you all how you used to be able to leave your doors open with the key in the lock, in her day ?

Regards, Mike

I bought a new Mac PowerBook in London a few weeks ago while visiting relatives. They had discussed putting in a WiFi connection before we came, and the Mac duly connected automatically to WiFi (or "Airport" as Apple insists on calling it). It turned out later that there was no WiFi in the house (my relatives hadn't got round to installing it before I visited): unknown to me, it had connected to a neighbour's WiFi.

Since Mac OS X automatically connects to unsecured WiFi access points, does my new PowerBook get a criminal record?


This is absolutely ridiculous. Even if the "hacker" was trying to do something malicious the onus is on the WiFi provider (the local residents) to ensure that their wireless LAN is protected. If I go out and try and converse with a friend on a public radio frequency, as walkie talkies use, and someone listens in on our conversation, have they done anything wrong? Perhaps. Have they done anything unlawful? Absolutely not. If you choose not to require a network key to access your wireless hub you are freely choosing to grant bandwidth on public frequencies to anyone who wants it. Had the locals set up permissions for their hub that were usurped or broken that would be one thing, but as this case stands it is completely without merit.


I don't think that sentence is harsh at all; basically he's been stealing a service which he hasn't paid for and which would be very difficult to track. What would have happened if he'd been using someone else's residential internet connection to download kiddie-porn? What happens when the police turn up at the house and seize all of the equipment with the statement "it must be you because your ISP logs said so". What if the accused is a teacher who is promptly suspended from his/her job, has his/her name linked by some vigilante from the LEA to the local press and is promptly dragged through the mud for 2 years while the legal system attempts to get to the bottom of the situation?

I've had a lot of conversations with people in the office here who seem to think that this is OK; I'd far rather see a strong message sent out to anyone who thinks that they can get away with it.

(Of course, it doesn't help that most wireless DSL/cable routers are shipped with wireless enabled, SSID broadcast on and no encryption active; perhaps the manufacturers should take a leaf out of MS's XP-SP2 book with regards to educating home users about basic privacy & security practices!)


This sounds quite incredible and wholly unreasonable. Are there any details that justify this harshness?

I don't know what it's like in the UK, but here (Ontario, Canada), lots of people do this kind of thing deliberately, and frankly, I sort-of take it that if you don't put a password on your router, you're sort-of inviting it.

I've done it accidentally myself many times, since the neighbour's connection pops up "loud & clear" within my apartment.

This "crime" seems to be akin to visiting an institution's library without permission, and reading the books there. Most institutions (municipalities, universities, etc), as a matter of policy, allow non-members to read the books, but some occasionally restrict the public, for example universities during examination periods. One could conceivably be asked to leave (equivalent to being disconnected), but charged criminally???

This is an outrageous judgment that probably merits and appeal, and more than a few paragraphs in The Register. I encourage you to continue reporting on this.

Best wishes,


Okay, so anyone who leaves their wireless LAN open for anybody to hop onto probably deserves what they get, but that doesn't mean that war driving is an acceptable social activity. As for not having hostile intent, you think that stealing is not a hostile act? So if I walk up to you, take your wallet out of your pocket and wander off to the nearest pub, you won't mind that because I don't have hostile intent? Yeah, right...


Websense attacks personal storage sites, claiming they are a safe haven for hackers:

John, must admit my personal dislike of Websense is pretty high. I can't even access my online email account at for some reason it's logged as alcohol and tobacco. Possibly It's the worry of reading about alcohol and tobacco may cause cancer or make you woozy. It's bloody annoying fascist software.


Lovely Websense doesn't entirely block access to el Reg, where I work, though it does make me agree that I am not doing anything naughty before allowing me to look at your esteemed website.

It highlights for me, in case I was unaware, that I am trying to look at an Information Technology website, which considering I'm in the IT department, I don't feel is too greater transgression of it's rather over-sensitive policing policy.

Though I do fear one day, I will be called into my directors office, and be forced to explain how chuckling of BoFH does anything to help the company's bottom line


Cisco's Linksys division has ponied up $61m in cash and stocks to acquire Kiss. Expensive snogging...

Hi John,

Very interesting that Cisco/Linksys has acquired Kiss. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the Kiss product line, but they have a bit of a cult following - an Ethernet-connected PVR/DVD player which is easily hackable (loads of people produce and download modified firmware versions) and which runs its own markup language (KML). Online programme guides for something like 1,000 channels and you can log into the Kiss portal from your mobile phone and tell your Kiss device at home to record a certain programme for you. Plus you can play games, read the news etc - way more extensible than Tivo etc...

Chris at Tinystocks (who also does various PDA software including Navio GPS which has geographic web searching - A2B - included and is part of the suite of software you can "buy" with a points system when you buy a new HP iPAQ) runs the Kiss player portal and has worked with Kiss a lot in the past 2 years. See and for more details. They have some impressive plans for their range of players.

So, what do you think Cisco and Linksys are going to do with the acquisition? I think they're going to move into the set-top box/PVR market in quite a big way.... it could be quite exciting...




When I read that headline I thought you meant the **band** KISS.

I was all set to run out and buy my fire-breathing, blood-spitting home broadband router. What a disappointment when I found out some silly networking company had stolen the good name of The Hottest Band In The World.



And here I was expecting to find an announcement of networking equipment being branded with images of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley!


We very rarely get letters about mobile phone market statistics, so we'll include this one for its rarity value:

I guess in the view of some who market mobile phones and who claim to understand what the consumer wants I would be classified as some kind of fossil or dinosaur, but I can't understand why it is that the interest in so-called "low end" mobile phones in a mature market (such as the U.S., where I'm at) is such a surprise.

Despite all of the commercials with silly fools constantly asking "Can you hear me now?" cell phones are still awful things to use to actually hold a conversation with someone -- there are still moments where words get garbled or the stupid things just drop out, altogether.

I doubt I'm alone in having the opinion that the manufacturers of these mobile phones and the purveyors of mobile phone services ought to focus on making the stupid things WORK, instead of complicating things with more bells and whistles that also just kinda, sorta work during a full moon or when the planets are aligned.

I still use a land line for almost all of my own phone calls, and though there are some who may view that as quaint, I at least have the satisfaction of know that when my conversations with others on cell phones are abruptly cut off, I'm not the one who feels the need to apologize for it. :)


The BPI is capable of getting its knickers in a twist about anything, really, provided it thinks its members are losing money somewhere, but it especially hates filesharers. This week, however, a survey suggested that illegal filesharers also spend more money on legal downloads. How would the poor BPI make sense of such a conundrum?

The BPI needs to realise that peoples' expectations for value have gone up, and CD sales have fallen because they simply do not represent good value. With over 80% dross on the average album and no more than three tracks on a single, most people are simply turned off the idea of shelling out the cost of a good meal at a respectable restaurant, for typically less than ten minutes of decent music.

Honestly, if I had made a similar amount of effort at my degree, I wouldn't even have gotten past the first semester!


"Some 60 per cent of regular P2P users said they wanted to have an MP3 player on their phone, compared to 29 per cent of other music fans. However, the same study also revealed that only eight per cent of the 600 people surveyed said they plan to buy a music phone in the next 12 months, so clearly desire is not yet translating into demand."

So where people have a choice of buying the hardware or doing without, they do without. These are the same people, mark you, that would have bought every single song they downloaded if the alternative was to go without - according the the recording industry's claims for the impact of downloading, that is.

These people seem a little mercurial: they desperately want the music, but couldn't care less about being able to play it. How quite odd.



A couple of points to note:

1) CD sales are based in the US on the number sold to the store, not how many the store sold. Recently, most chains have gone to Just In Time inventory. They therefore need less inventory. So, the number of CDs sold to them is reduced

2) Yes, the downloaders may be reducing their purchase of CDs. How about those who DON'T download? There are ringtones, phone minutes, DVD's XBox games all vying for the limited pocket.

This is one area where you can DEFINITELY get any answer you want by changing the assumptions.


"we need to continue our carrot and stick approach to the problem of illegal file-sharing."

Can anyone point out what the carrot part is? Expensive, DRM encumbered downloads are still stick if you ask me!


Bruce Schneier changes tack on password security and suggests writing your password down on a bit of paper, and keeping it securely about your person:

I disagree with Schneier's implication that secure passwords are necessarily difficult to memorize. For years I've been "generating" easy-to-memorize passwords by taking a line from a song or poem, and using the first letter of each word. A number tacked on at the end, or the substitution of numbers and @ symbols for appropriate letters or words makes the password negligibly less secure than an entirely random one. It's easier to type quickly, and saves you keeping track of that bit of paper in your wallet. (I first learned this technique from O'Reilly's fine UNIX Power Tools.)

I imagine the real problem is getting people to care sufficiently about security to go to the additional trouble required to create a secure password of any variety.


Writing down your password: good Putting it in your wallet!? *Planning* on using a computer you don't know to access you *BANK*?

In work I recommend to users to put post-its around the screen! It felt weird the first time, but it makes sense - the PCs in the work environment are access protected (by the doors). If you're relying on the physical access, at least the risks are visible. Its a funny old world!


Write bank next to your bank account password which you keep on a piece of paper in a wallet which also contains Bank cards, some of which very possibly contains the name and logo of the bank system that password gets you in to.

Hrm, at least theres "Secret" Questions on bank systems as well


Schneier seems to have missed a trick on this one.

Not writing down passwords was important as in the pre-broadband era, passwords were for off-line machines and the only method of attack was local. Stealing a bit of paper with a password is a highly effective form of local attack. Difficult-to-crack passwords only really became necessary in the always-on environment, where an automated system can engage in brute force remote attacks.

While remote attacks are now far more common than local ones, local attacks are still a risk. To protect against both simultaneously we need *two* passwords: one that isn't written down and one that is hard to crack by brute force; one in our heads and one written down.

So for example I might take "Fido" and "R%76hgI".

This wouldn't need new software, though, as we can run the two together to get our master password; eg "FidoR%76hgl".

The local attacker would still need brute force.

Crack that!

Niall (not the same one as above)

All this hullabaloo about password security is made ridiculous by the way passwords are used.

We all have dozens and dozens of password sites we visit, most of which you don't care a fig whether anybody steals your password--because the password is there for the convenience of the site, which is tracking visitors, but of no use to the visitor.

For example, to read some articles or download some software on IBM's developer site, you need to register, fill out a long, long (LONG) form, and get a password--which has to follow certain security rules (so it can't be just "5555" for example). Then you have to use that password in the future.

Well, what do *I* care if somebody steals my password and - gasp! - uses it to *read articles* and *download trial copies of DB2 Universal Database V. 8.1*!!?? Or pretends to be me while viewing pages at the New York Times?

Yet not only do they require passwords, but they try to make it hard for you to use the same password at all these non-security sites by each having elaborate rules for what usernames and passwords you can use.

Password security only matters for me at certain sites where it could cost me money -- I don't want somebody ordering Amazon books on my credit card, for example. The rest of the sites can go jump in a lake.

I have no objection to helping them by being easily tracked, but not if I have to carry around a two-page listing of usernames and passwords! And then read articles in El Reg about what a knucklehead I am for giving my password to a passerby who offers Starbucks coupons!


Next, the daftest email ever does the rounds. If you are stuck in a tube and need the emergency services, it said, dial 112 to be connected to a satellite emergency services number. Yes. Satellites are known for their ability to maintain a signal through heavy rain. AHem. They should do fine providing coverage 200m underground:

But I remember Mulder in the X-Files once using his mobile phone when he was stuck inside a metal train carriage (?) full of dead aliens buried under the desert .....?

Regards, Mike

Keep taking the tablets, Mike

Holding onto a rabbit's foot is pretty close. Rabbit telecom used to have base stations on the Underground - you can still see the logos in places. If you had a rabbit phone and were within 100 yards of the logo, you could make calls...


Here in Stockholm, all mobiles work on the underground system. Whether this is a good thing is a different question.


"Transport for London said yesterday that 112 - the European equivalent of 999 - "

Did you mean "911"?


Erm, no. Not even slightly.

A granny sues over porny video game. Yes, it's GTA again. Good lord, America, it wasn't that bad, was it?

I've been following the Grand Theft Auto situation on El Reg and elsewhere, laughing at the utter irony of the situation.

Now I can't restrain myself from offering the following comments to all the namby pamby do gooders out there who are "shocked and outraged" that there could be porn in a "kids" video game.

A) It isn't a "kids" video game, you moronic dolt's! If you let your kid's badger you into buying it for them and you didn't understand the rating for graphic violence, you have absolutely no excuse for being one of the least intelligent clowns in the known universe.

B) Now that you know that GTA is an adult game, was marketed and rated as such; why haven't you kicked the ass of that snot nosed little brat for conning you into buying it? Because he knew EXACTLY what the game was about before you bought it for him!

C) Now that that is out in the open, you should give yourself a swift cap in the ass for not taking the time to know what you're buying for your kids, sniffle back the buttload of crocodile tears, and learn to take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN (Choose one) STUPIDITY AND/OR IGNORANCE!

D) Given the fact that you now recognize that the internet, computers and game consoles are in your mind, "Tools of Satan"; did you take them away from your children? No, you cry out for more regulation!

Honestly folks, the advertising campaign and news coverage on this game was so huge that you can only claim "Ignorance" if you are deaf, dumb and blind. No one else but you can keep an eye on your kids behaviour and to insist that the "Guverment" step in to "protect us from ourselves" shows that you are unable to parent your children and that Social Services should step in and take them away from you and bill you for their care and upkeep!

I am tired of hearing some bloody tool crying "but what about the children" when it is the parent that is the problem. Only YOU have the power to effect the control and supervision that children need.

The whole uproar over the sexual content of GTA is quite laughable considering that (in my mind at least) the game's inherent violence is MUCH more harmful than seeing animated characters doing "the rumpy pumpy". Has anyone in the press mentioned "The Sim's" game mod's that are out there?

You Europeans are so lucky that the "Pilgrim's" went to the Colonies looking for "religious freedom"! Any chance I can get "Religious Asylum" granted to me now before the "Moral Minority" takes away the last remaining vestige of freedom I have? Can anyone say freedom FROM religious persecution?

I believe the repressed sexuality of these religious fascists is the root cause of all the sex crime that we have here in the USA. In fact, it is religion that is basis of most of the world conflict we have today. If anything should be banned, it is the outward display and promotion of religion; not sex or nudity! Remember, a pair of naked, perky ta-ta's bobbling in the breeze never killed anyone. I can't say I feel the same about hairy backed Frenchmen in Speedo's, but hey, each to their own device's!

Legislating private or personal behaviour negates the responsibility of the individual. What you do to yourself or with a willing adult participant in the privacy of your own domicile is your's alone. Most (but obviously not all) of us are aware that the "Guverment" can't police it's own actions, let alone the rest of the population's.

If you parochial, sexually repressed, religionists, would expend even half the energy you waste criticizing others behaviour; on yourselves, the world would be a much better place. Get a life!

Unashamedly Yours,


Ugh.. I despise people like this. I have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever for this granny and her kid... Someone should tell that granny to answer the clue phone.. "The game was originally rated M - Mature Audiences. Gratuitous sex scene / AO Rating or not, it was NOT intended for 14-year-olds!"

It's people like this that keep the money-hungry lawyers in business.. I suppose it's par for the course, though. And I bet the granny will win her precious suit on the same pretense as that old woman who sued McDonalds after she dumped scalding hot coffee in her lap while driving.

I really wish the courts and judges would open their eyes. It isn't the fault of businesses (McDonalds, Take Two Interactive, etc) when their customers make blatantly stupid decisions.

Sorry for the rant, but this kind of thing really pisses me off.. It's been happening for years ever since that catalytic McDonald's case.. Now any time something happens the [grand]parents blame it on everyone but themselves. Poor parenting and overall stupidity should not be rewarded with legal winnings.

So, to the granny suing Take Two.... If you didn't want your grandkid exposed to that, then you should've looked at the box. The "M" rating was clearly visible before it was changed to AO. Would granny let her 14 year old grandkid into an R-Rated movie (US rating system) that shows mindless violence, filthy language, and plenty of T&A scenes? Not likely. Stop passing the blame and take responsibility for a stupid decision in buying the game without first looking at the rating.

If the game had been rated "E" for Everyone, or even "T" for Teen (or whatever the equivalent rating is), then I can understand people being a little pissed about the hidden sex scene. But doesn't it strike you as amusing, that while killing, maiming, bloodshed, drug use, and bad language are generally acceptable, a bit of skin on skin action is instantly trashed?

Stick me with a fork; I'm done.


I'd like to know how the octogenarian game-basher managed to buy the PC version of GTA:SA (the only one with the sex scenes in) in 2004, when I had to wait till May 2005 when it was released. If she bought the PS2 version, she'd not have been able to access the sex scenes...

Mind, when did facts ever stand in the way of sensationalism and huge payouts from the American legal system?



Removing a penis from a frog turns out not to be something covered in basic dissection classes:

Concerning the Crazy Frog losing his Fallopian Fiddler - the newer neutered version is actually anatomically correct, according to this site:

To get to the point, "Frogs and toads don't have penises. During amplexus [the scientific term for the froggy eight-legged frolic] the female discharges eggs -- usually into water -- while the male sheds sperms over the eggs."

So Crazy Frog doesn't know what he's missing. So to speak.


Hmm. Chipolata. or possibly "baby carrot".

To put it another way, does anyone else remember the infamous "nude crystal maze" (or whatever it was called).

*Is* Keith Chegwin the human (and I use the word advisedly) alter ego of Crazy Frog?

We should be told.. :o)



And that's yer lot. The sun is shining, it is Friday. 'Nuff said. ®

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