Recently there was a surprising flurry of discussion surrounding a lame little article on ZDNet. Not just on weblogs, but around the water cooler, people worrying about how wireless networks are insecure and should we really be using them?

Get a grip.

A few points beg being made. First, I agree with Andy Oram: how is this different from any open relay? Further, Cory Doctorow comments:

My guess is that as long as you can send spam from home without having to put on pants, there’s no reason why you’d go through this stupid business of wardriving open wireless nodes to use as a spam launchpad.

Someone suggested to me two reasons: bandwidth and untraceability.

Whose bandwidth? Most of the spam that I get is blind-copied to me, which tells me that the spammer sent the message exactly once, leaving the “10 million” copies to the MTA. Unless the spammer’s ISP is tracking and charging for this bandwidth, why would the spammer care? If the spammer’s looking to use free bandwidth, there are plenty of easy options: public libraries, cybercafes, etc. It doesn’t matter whether they’re wireless or not.

As for untraceability, is it really easier to drive around looking for warchalking symbols or scanning for open networks and probing for open mail relays, or to sit at home and do the same thing?

The funniest/ saddest part of the article is that ZDNet misquoted their source. He didn’t say that this is happening, he said that it could happen.

OK, so there’s a good point, unfortunately obscured by the FUD: secure your networks — wireless or not — if you don’t want them abused. Of course I agree with this, of course it needs to be said. Again. And again.

What I object to is the way that ZDNet bends the details to make this point. Cuz what happens next is the mainstream press picks up on it, blurs reality a bit more, and pretty soon local TV news programs are running headline reports like “Wireless Internet is the work of Satan, because godless communist gay child pornographer spammers are abusing it.”

No. The technology itself is not dangerous. It’s actually pretty cool. The issues described in this article are nothing new or inherent in wireless. But articles like this obscure important information and feed sensationalistic hype. Drives me nuts.