Hacking Hogs Hijack Hotspots For Higher Speeds
By Mike Masnick, Tue Jun 08 21:45:00 GMT 2004

When using hotspots some people don't want to play nice and share equally. They're setting up hacks to give themselves more than their fair share of bandwidth. Is it worth trying to stop them?


Hackers love Wi-Fi. There's so much they can do, from wardriving to packet sniffing to kicking everyone off the access point they're on. While that last one may be a little too extreme for some people, there are some who still would like more than their fair share of bandwidth on an access point - and they're hacking the MAC protocol to give themselves more bandwidth than they deserve to get.

Of course, the article doesn't describe how widespread this practice is, or whether or not anyone has found it to be a real problem. In fact, the problem is brought up by someone who is trying to sell a tool to stop this behavior. The tool works by noticing if someone is getting excessive bandwidth and cutting them off or even fining them. This seems like a lot of effort for something that may not even be a really big problem. Obviously, the risk is there that it will become a bigger issue, but how many people really are going to be hacking their MAC addresses? Furthermore, most users don't really need that much bandwidth, if they're just using a hotspot to check email and surf the web occasionally.

More importantly, though, is that after any WISP implements such a solution, the hackers will move on and come up with some other way to siphon off a little extra bandwidth, and the WISPs will have to find someone else to pay for another tool that blocks that hack as well. Even the article here points out that there are many ways to attack a hotspot to gain some sort of advantage. At some point, you have to wonder if it's really worth it to protect against these attacks that don't seem all that common and don't really do that much real damage.