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Re: Legality of WEP Cracking
From: Matthew Webster <awakenings () mindspring com>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2007 15:12:30 -0400 (EDT)


     Your email address is a UK address so I'm assuming you are from the UK.  I can only speak to US law on this matter 
so I apologize if my information is not accurate for UK law.  First, there is a good chance they will act belligerently 
and sue you everything you are worth for attempting to crack private data - even if you are doing so passively.  People 
may question your intent.  Second, there are at least a couple of different (US) laws which may come into play.  First, 
even passively, you are using their access point -- collecting data off of it and saving it.  This is far different 
from just surfing for a legal access point to use while sitting in Starbucks.  No data is saved to the system and you 
are not attempting to crack their encryption scheme (however poor WEP may be).  While writing policy for laptop use, I 
came across the following web site which I found useful;


   It details a few wireless cases and several US laws.  Yes, it does say that war driving can get you in jail.  The 
whole site is filled with good information about US cybercrime laws.

    Also, think about this from a PR stance.  How will reporters look at this if they find out that a company is 
"hacking" other systems in order to drum up business.  They will not make the fine tuned arguments that you will make 
and it will be negative publicity (which can be a good thing in some cases admittedly).

   So, from my limited perspective, legally, ethically, and from a PR stance, I would never attempt to do anything like 
what you suggest.  I would only do what I am authorized to do an no more.  That is the prime distinction between a 
pen-tester and a cracker.  I would not delve into the gray areas at all (even if there is some legal gray space in your 
country), but that is me keeping my white hat on.

Just me 2 cents...


-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Brinson <richard () kanoo-uk com>
Sent: May 18, 2007 5:32 AM
To: pen-test () securityfocus com
Subject: Legality of WEP Cracking

During an internal business development meeting yesterday we were discussing
new ways of picking up pen testing clients. One of our junior engineers
suggested that we go war driving, crack some WEP keys and then approach each
company offering services to make them more secure. The idea was put down
straight away on the basis that without prior approval we would be breaking
the law. However, upon further discussion a case was made that (moral issues
aside) provided we only captured traffic passively, and as long as we did
not try to connect or send any packets to any devices - would the law be

Does the law state anywhere that we can not analyse air traffic that is
broadcast into the public domain? (if so surely we would all be breaking the
law every time we picked up a network other than our own) and is it against
the law to know someone else's WEP key when they have not made that
information available to you?

What are your thoughts on this?

Kind regards,

Richard Brinson
Kanoo Ltd

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