Students should be aware of unsecured wireless networks

One student, whose network was used by somebody else, was accused of illegal file-sharing
Students who set up an unsecured wireless network could end up getting more than they bargained for.
Senior political science major David Mullner said he received a notice informing him that a network set up in his name was participating in illegal file sharing.
“If you are the first person to connect to a wireless router, then it registers that a network was set up in your name,” Mullner said. “After that, anything that is downloaded from that network shows up as something you downloaded.”
Executive Director of Instructional Media and Technology Nial Johnson is in charge of sending out notices to students accused of illegal file sharing.
“I have had to send out more than 100 of these notices since January,” Johnson said. “The watchdog groups, and particularly the Recording Industry Association of America, are getting more involved.”
Johnson said cases where the student accused of illegal file sharing but did not participate in it are rare but do happen.
“I have had a small handful of maybe four or five students that have been involved in using wireless internet and someone else used their network for illegal activities,” he said. “Students need to know that once they register a device on the wireless network that they are responsible for it.”
Mullner said this is what happened to him.
“There is no way to tell whom it was that downloaded music off of the network set up in my name,” he said. “But the only punishment was to sign a form promising that I would not do it again and that I have deleted all the illegal files, which of course I do not have.”
Mullner said he has now secured his wireless network to ensure no one else shares illegal files on a network in his name.
Johnson said once he notifies a student that they have been accused of peer-to-peer file sharing, they have one day to set up a meeting with him.
“If they do not respond within 24 hours I have to cut off their internet access,” he said. “The vast majority of the time, the people responsible for participating in these illegal activities linked to the IP address admit that they are responsible.”
Johnson also said there is no way of knowing if the student merely registered on an unprotected network or actually participated in file sharing.
“I look into the honor and forthrightness of students to tell the truth,” he said.
A search is currently underway to find a replacement for the recently failed Ruckus, the formerly recommended legal music downloading program for students, Johnson said.
“Sprialfrog.com and Pandora.com are two of the sites we are looking into,” he said. “I personally like Pandora.com but you can not download songs onto your computer from Pandora, it is streaming.”
Students should know how to discover if they have unprotected networks registered in their name on campus, Johnson said.
“Students can log into MyBU and look under the registered networks tab and make sure all networks registered in their name should be there,” he said. “If not they should call the help desk and they will take care of the problem.”