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In this scare-mongering article from the Sacramento Bee about people who use open WiFi networks, a cop from the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force makes a remarkable statement about homemade WiFi antennas:

Last month in Elk Grove, a high-school student faced eight felony computer-theft charges for allegedly hacking into his school’s computer system and changing his grades. When police searched his home, they found aluminum-lined, cylindrical potato-chip containers that some hackers use as crude antennas to help them intercept wireless signals.

Known as “cantennas,” they consist of a Pringles can and some hardware worth $5 to $10 but can be used to amplify a wireless signal several miles away.

“They’re unsophisticated but reliable, and it’s illegal to possess them,” said Lozito of the Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force.

Then the reporter goes on to note:

It’s also illegal to access wireless networks that aren’t public. In other words, if you’ve ever been pleasantly surprised to open your laptop, pull up your browser and have Internet access, that likely means you’ve just intruded into someone else’s unsecured network “” and really aren’t allowed to be there.

Original story is here

Hi-tech cop: cantennas are illegal to possess

5 thoughts on “Hi-tech cop: cantennas are illegal to possess

  • July 26, 2005 at 10:04 am
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    human lies!

    i can’t believe that they’re illegal to posess. i could see illegal to use in a certian manner but that could be many things, not just wireless network intrusion.

  • July 26, 2005 at 10:54 am
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    Someone was recently charged with federal felony charges for accessing an unsecured network.

    If you ask me, if you are broadcasting unsecured into public spectrum over public land (or someone else’s private land) that’s YOUR problem.

    If you leave your bike on my front lawn and I ride it around the block, and leave it back on the lawn, have I robbed you?

    If your baseball is in my back yard, is it theft for me to keep it?

  • July 26, 2005 at 11:16 am
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    I totally agree that the security of any network is the responsiblity of the owner/administrator.

    BUT, would you go so far as to say that if your front door was unlocked I should have the right to enter your home at will? Where does trespassing begin?

  • July 26, 2005 at 11:45 am
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    I do know that trespassing ends when I shoot you dead.

  • July 26, 2005 at 4:14 pm
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    Cantanneas are in no way illegal. They dont even say they found a cantannea in his room. They found “aluminum-lined, cylindrical potato-chip containers” that “is used by others” for that purpose. Well, spoons can be used in shooting heroin, are we going to start outlawing them? Charging people with possession of drug paraphernalia because of their silverware?

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