I have this lovely little Netgear ADSL router that, bar the occasional restart, has been running happily for four or five years. It was a relief to get it after a succession of Linksys and Belkin routers that either didn’t work properly or failed after a few months. Fantastic piece of kit, and because I really can’t be bothered with looking up a WEP key whenever we have visitors who need a bit of internet, and because it’s set pretty far back from the road in the middle of a house with nice thick 1920s walls, I leave it open. I think I can just about get a bar of signal from the pavement on my iPhone, so it’s not a big deal.
Or at least it wasn’t until this evening. Annoyingly the excellent Homeplug network things that I mentioned the other week have to go back, so I bought myself a new pair today and set them up when I got in. Checked that they were working by starting up iPlayer on the Freesat box and booting the tiny little PC, and while I was browsing the videos folder on this PC across the network I noticed an unknown PC in the list of network devices.
An unknown PC with, I’ll have you know, an Eastern European-sounding name.
That’s not the point, though. I don’t run an open network out of any right-on hippy ideals; I run it because encryption’s a fucking pain in the arse. I don’t have a great deal of bandwidth, and that gets throttled to buggery if it detects the slightest whiff of BitTorrent, forcing me to run uTorrent in ultimate stealth mode, rejecting all unencrypted connections. So no, whoever you are nearby, you can’t just help yourself to my wifi. You can fuck right off.
It was with just a little regret, and in the near-certain knowledge that I’ll have the devil’s own job getting my Wii and DS to connect to it again, that I turned on WEP this evening, and then wrote down the passkey on a scrap of paper so that Philippa can get her laptop online. It’s the end of an era.