Our neighbours have named their network in a highly offensive manner to our family. We did some minor wardriving and have pinpointed what house the network is coming from, but is there any way of figuring out the network's IP address or ISP?

Sorry, I should clarify here: I don't want to hack their network, I want to talk to their ISP.

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    Speak to your neighbours? What do you hope to achieve by knowing the external IP address or the ISP? The WiFi SSID isn't related to these. – sblair Aug 17 '11 at 23:18
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    What do you think their ISP is going to do? ISP's aren't exactly "in charge" of what their customers name their networks. ISP's aren't even generally aware that their customers even HAVE networks. I'd also like to know just what it is about their network name that bothers you so much. – Cyberherbalist Aug 17 '11 at 23:34

You know their address? Nice.

  1. Go to their door
  2. Knock
  3. Explain your viewpoint and ask them politely to change the name (or stop broadcasting the SSID)
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    @D'Arvit it's the best you can do at the moment. They may not realize that they are offending someone else, so the least you can do (at this point) is bring it to their attention. Just be honest and kill them with kindness; it'll make it hard for them to say no. – Nic Aug 17 '11 at 23:33
  • This is not a good idea -- if they're doing this on purpose, then there's a chance this situation could escalate to violence. The best solution is to contact the local police (non-emergency line phone numbers can usually be found in the front cover of your local telephone book) for assistance. – Randolf Richardson Aug 18 '11 at 1:04
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    Definitely if they already have a bad relationship with this neighbour, but the question doesn't suggest that. I think asking politely is the right first step. – bfhd Aug 18 '11 at 1:40
  • @bfhd: Hopefully the people who answer the door will be much smarter than their SSID name indicates, and will say "oh, we're so sorry about about that, we'll call technical support right away." Unfortunately, a more common initial response is defensiveness (e.g., "what are you accusing me of?") or hostility, neither of which is likely to develop into a good relationship with this neighbour. We hope it won't escalate to violence, but there are some people who don't handle such requests well, which is why I think this approach is not a good idea. – Randolf Richardson Aug 19 '11 at 13:25

If this issue cannot be dealt with face to face or by a polite letter, I would get the proper authorities involved - for example, in the UK, this may (I am not a Lawyer) be an offence under the The Malicious Communications Act 1988 section 1. This Act covers "...the sending to another of any article which is indecent or grossly offensive, or which conveys a threat, or which is false, provided there is an intent to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient. The offence covers letters, writing of all descriptions, electronic communications, photographs and other images in a material form, tape recordings, films and video recordings.". Particularly noteworthy here is that "The offence is one of sending, delivering or transmitting, so there is no requirement for the article to reach the intended recipient."

If you are not in the UK then your country may have similar Acts or regulations - maybe there is a free legal assistance scheme you could use.

I would forget any idea of trying to 'hack', access or interfere with their system in any way otherwise YOU might be guilty of an offence.

  • +1 because this is the smartest way to handle the situation. The policing authorities have the proper training to deal with these scenarios, and deal with people from many walks of life on a daily basis, which makes them well-suited to handle it for you. Not attempting to gain access to the offending network is also a smart recommendation because then you're not potentially making this situation worse. – Randolf Richardson Aug 18 '11 at 1:10
  • Yeah, that's what they taught us in conflict resolution. ESCALATE the situation by getting more parties involved. – surfasb Aug 18 '11 at 5:45
  • @surfasb: I believe Linker3000 is suggesting not starting a conflict in the first place, and just letting those with more experience in dealing with conflicts handle the problem situation instead. If more people who do offensive things are more regularly met with resistance (e.g., from policing authorities when they're breaking laws in such activities), then there will be more motivation for them to either stop (preferred) or move away (such as where the local society doesn't give a damn). Over the years I've discovered that it's better to have very little tolerance for criminal behaviour. – Randolf Richardson Aug 19 '11 at 13:11

Without knowing their key, you will not be able to find their public IP or the ISP they are on.

A very rare case is that you can get the MAC address of the router and then try to look up device manufacturer and enquirer on the very off chance it is a router just for one isp - but this will not work if they have an off the shelf one. Even if this did work, you would not be able to get their ip.

That being said, connecting to a network that you know you do not have permission to access can be considered hacking and illegal in many countries.

Your best bet is to go to your local police/law enforcement with proof that it is offensive as it may be considered harassment of some sort.

  • I have their MAC address. What would happen from here? – D'Arvit Aug 17 '11 at 23:30
  • I also know the router is made by 2Wire. – D'Arvit Aug 17 '11 at 23:31
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    @D'Arvit - How do you know it is 2Wire!? What did you do to find it? – William Hilsum Aug 18 '11 at 7:57
  • @William. I user inSSIDer. – D'Arvit Aug 18 '11 at 23:01

I'd say get over it. If you are researching this online you are more likely the kind of person just trying to prove something and "catch" someone. And I don't agree with the other party, and their offensive network name, and I don't like to enable people. It's really awful of them out of principal. But you are an adult, that should have better things to do than pick these tiny battles over wifi network names. If you are worried about your kids seeing this offensive name, there are ways to block the wifi network from appearing (although that is another google search away from this thread). But if you are just worried about OTHER people in the neighborhood... no one nominated you chief neighborhood internet police detective. Get over it. If this is enough of a concern for you to be asking the internet, chances are you are bored, unfulfilled, and need to get out of the house.


So name your network to offend them in return. Sheesh.

Not really. First of all, did they intend to target you with their network name? If they did, then I'm sure they would be delighted to discover that they managed to "zing" you. So don't tell them, they're clearly jerks. If they did not target you, you can either ask them politely to change it out of consideration for your delicate feelings, or ignore the whole issue.

So, how does this actually affect you? I am pretty certain that the only time this would even come to your notice is when a WiFi-capable device of yours found it while searching the first time for a network. So after your devices have been set to use your own network this isn't going to be a consideration.

And as to involving law enforcement? Unless the network name is clearly intended to convey a threat to your health or safety there isn't a thing the police could do, in an official capacity, anyway.

And unless your local laws are incredibly invasive there is, as far as I have ever heard, no laws anywhere that control how private citizens name their WiFi networks.

  • Actually, there are things that the police can do. For example, here in Canada it is illegal to produce hateful or racist statements publicly. If a wireless network name exhibited these sorts of offenses, then the police have the power to lay criminal charges against the parties responsible. – Randolf Richardson Aug 18 '11 at 1:19
  • Well, I did indicate that if laws were in place in the locality then the story would be different. @D'Arvit hasn't said where he/she is located, so we're all still guessing on that one. – Cyberherbalist Aug 18 '11 at 17:24
  • You did lean towards a lack of laws with "...as far as I have ever heard, no laws anywhere..." which is why I felt inclined to point out that there are strong laws here in Canada. – Randolf Richardson Aug 18 '11 at 17:38
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    Yes, to that point in time when you acknowledged that your laws in Canada were in fact, as I termed it, "incredibly invasive", I had not previously believed that naming your private WiFi network in such a way as to hurt your neighbor's tender feelings was something that you could be tossed into jail over in any country. Thanks for enlightening me. We still don't know where @D'Arvit lives and whether he/she can file a criminal complaint or must simply Get A Life. – Cyberherbalist Aug 19 '11 at 6:07
  • As a society I think we're often too concerned about other peoples' feelings (do-gooders going overboard with political correctness is likely a key factor in the development of these approaches), but when it comes to putting a stop to outright racism or hatred towards a clearly identifiable group (e.g., people with a specific physical attribute), then I'm very pleased with our laws as reasonable and justified. You're absolutely right in that knowing which country @D'Arvit is in would be helpful for suggesting a suitable course of action, and that many countries probably don't have such laws. – Randolf Richardson Aug 19 '11 at 13:02

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