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