Monday, December 06, 2010


Late last week somebody hacked my home wireless network with the apparent aim of downloading as much video as they could before they were forcibly stopped. The network is password protected, but that didn't prove to be an impossible barrier. Starting around 8am, they downloaded around 250MB's worth of data each hour, every hour, throughout the day and all through the night, until they exhausted our limit and my ISP throttled the bandwidth down to 128kps. Then they apparently gave up on it... leaving The Flatmate and me with severely limited internet for the rest of December.

Fortunately after I contacted my ISP they arranged to shift me onto a different plan that gave me more download limit for the same money, so our broadband is back up and running. In addition, The Flatmate has changed the password for our network and changed the settings so that, regardless of passwords, only registered machines can access it. Of course there's every chance it could happen again, but if worst comes to worst we can just switch off the router whenever we're not using the internet. And call the police.

The question that springs to mind is this: who searches for a nearby wireless network, cracks its password protection, then drains its bandwidth by the fastest means possible, discarding it like an empty juicebox when its exhausted?

We normal people makes excuses, looking for the rationale we would use if we found ourselves doing the same thing. Perhaps the hacker thought that he was accessing an unlimited network from the nearby university, and thus being not taking anything that couldn't be instantly replaced? Perhaps the culprit was a lonely Chinese student hitting back at the racism he encounters every day by exploiting his uncaring neighbours? Maybe he's a guy so addicted to HD streaming video porn that he finds himself stooping to all sorts of chicanery to get his "fix"?

I don't think it's any of these things. I thinks it's just that he's a psychopath, in the literal sense. He wants to download vast amounts of data and has the programing skills to find a way to not pay for it. The concept of inconveniencing or hurting other people, or that those other people have to pay for his data, doesn't enter into the equation. It's not that the moral angle is overridden: it simply doesn't occur to him.

Which is not to say that I won't set him on fire if I ever find out who he is. I'm just recognising that it takes a person with a complete absense of empathy to do this, and we normal people have difficulty comprehending such a thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home