Should you share your internet with your neighbor?

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Recently I got an email from Barbara in Maine, with an interesting question. She wrote: “I have a next door neighbor who wants to hook into my internet and share expenses. Is that not legal to do? What do I need to know about it?” Great question, Barbara!

wifi sharing


I’ll tell you right up front, if I were asked this by one of my neighbors, my answer would be no. For several reasons:

1. I don’t trust my neighbor enough to justify the risk this deal creates for me

That’s not to say my neighbor (let’s call him Daniel) is not a nice person, or would do anything intentionally malicious. On the contrary, Daniel and his wife are wonderful people. Always friendly, helpful, just nice to have as neighbors.

BUT – I don’t know how secure their computers are. I would be letting their computers into my network, and I don’t know what antivirus or antimalware they use. I don’t know if their software is up to date, or if their computers are even set to install Windows Updates at all. Their computers could already be riddled with viruses and malware, and I would be letting them into the “trusted” side of my wifi router, with the potential to infect all of the computers in my house.

2. I can’t really know who would be accessing the internet through my connection

Even if Daniel and his wife are completely up to date and totally secure against any viruses, what about someone else that comes to visit? I couldn’t possibly trust those people since I don’t even know them. Maybe Daniel’s 24 year old nephew, who just got out of prison and needs a place to stay for a little while, goes online with his laptop that is NOT fully protected. That puts all of your computers at risk again.

3. I could be compromising my privacy

This would depend on how you have your network set up, but in some scenarios, your neighbor (or his wife, or his criminal nephew Daniel, or Daniel’s buddies that come over) could access the files on your computer.

4. I’m responsible for the activity on my internet account

What if whoever is sharing your wifi signal decides to download some illegal music or software? Or maybe they make just a brief (or even an accidental) visit to an illegal porn website? Any activity like that would be traced back to the IP address – and that’s all on you. Are you willing to risk prison time just to share your monthly internet bill?

5. Your internet provider might not allow it

If you check the terms and conditions for your internet account, you might find that your internet provider does not allow you to share your wifi signal with any of your neighbors for the purpose of splitting the monthly cost. Of course they are aware that this does go on all the time, so if they do find out about it, they might cancel your internet account without notice.

6. Your internet could slow to a crawl

At 10 pm when you just want to get some emails processed, or you’re doing some research on the web, and you notice that web pages are loading really slowly. Maybe you’re just imagining it, or… maybe your neighbor has 3 computers and they’re all logged into Netflix with different people watching separate movies.

Hopefully those are enough reasons. For me, I would just rather pay for my own account and have it all to myself.

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