This question asked whether or not one is allowed to use a neighbor's unencrypted (unlocked, without a password) Wi-Fi connection. This question touches upon a lot of different things in American law (stealing, computer law acts, etc), Jewish law (zeh neheneh v'zeh chaser, doing things in the neighbor's name [via IP address], etc), and where they cross (dina d'malchuta dina).

But what I'm left wondering is, assuming all issues with unencrypted Wi-Fi are resolved, what is the ruling with encrypted Wi-Fi? There are many programs (aircrack for example) that can crack Wi-Fi passwords (both WEP and WPA); if one broke in, (1) may he use the internet? (2) If he did, does he have to repay the neighbor?

  • 4
    isn't that a kol v'chomer?
    – ray
    May 2, 2014 at 5:57
  • @ray Not necessarily...the big question I had was more along the lines of if the answer to the question of unblocked connection is "if it's open, he clearly doesn't care," then what about when he does lock it? Then what about all the other sevaros involved?
    – MTL
    May 5, 2014 at 3:21
  • This is the perfect vehicle for klipot.
    – Simon
    May 10, 2014 at 12:39

1 Answer 1

  1. No, you may not use the internet.
  2. Yes, you have to repay the neighbor, especially if the neighbor is charged for the amount of data used. If the neighbor has an unlimited plan, you may still have to pay, although determining an actual monetary amount may be tricky.

Very simple analogy to explain this: If I lock my door, and you pick the lock and break in, can you use my kitchen to make yourself dinner?

The main argument for using an open internet connection is that the owner does not care, and zeh neheneh v'zeh aino chaser. Neither applies in this case, for the owner clearly cares, and is chaser, as you've just actively broken his encryption. (Now, at the very least, he needs to change his passwords and check that you haven't accessed anything private or allowed malware to infect his network.)

In addition, it is illegal to break into someone else's network.

Please see the discussion in this article (staring on page 25) for details and sources.

  • 1
    I don't understand how he is Chaser. His network is just as break-able as before, which means it is just as likely to be infected by malware. Can you source your claim about the kitchen?
    – Double AA
    May 2, 2014 at 13:48
  • He is chaser because now he has to do extra work to secure his network, which costs him time (and maybe money). Re Malware: No, if his network locked and is only accessed by computers which he knows are safe (ex. running antivirus), then he doesn't have to check for malware. But if you break in, then you're accessing his network with a new device whose safety is unknown, so now he has to check that he hasn't been infected.
    – Shmuel
    May 2, 2014 at 19:02
  • Re Kitchen: I would have thought that this is obvious, but here's a link: torah.org/advanced/business-halacha/5757/vol2no21.html Also, please see Exodus 22:1.
    – Shmuel
    May 2, 2014 at 19:05
  • Still not following at all. Why does he have to do more work now? His network is just as vulnerable as before. Also don't know why Exodus 22:1 is relevant. There is no prohibition against looking threatening, per se, even if doing so may lead one to harm you.
    – Double AA
    May 2, 2014 at 19:47
  • An analogy: The network is like an operating room at a hospital. Only doctors who have scrubbed-in are allowed to enter, and the doors are locked. All of a sudden an unknown person breaks through the doors and runs in. Now the hospital has to clean the room to prevent infection.
    – Shmuel
    May 2, 2014 at 19:52

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