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Old 05-29-2008, 07:23 AM   #1
dogmandouglas
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Default wi-fi security

My son Rory has just bought himself an iPod Touch. It's a fantastic little machine with really good graphics. It's just an mp3 player, video player and web browser all in one.

What has surprised him though is the lack of of wi-fi security in local houses – when he walked through our town – he pressed wi-fi scan just to see how many networks were in the area. He found quite a few, and over half had no password to connect to their network.

It worrying what some people could do with more sophisticated machine.
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Old 05-29-2008, 08:32 AM   #2
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What has surprised him though is the lack of of wi-fi security in local houses – when he walked through our town – he pressed wi-fi scan just to see how many networks were in the area. He found quite a few, and over half had no password to connect to their network.

It worrying what some people could do with more sophisticated machine.
There's a whole subclass of the hacker fraternity that call themselves--IIRC-- "war drivers" (or a similar pretentious term), who cruise up and down city streets with a laptop, cataloguing all the unsecured WiFi addresses. I'm not exactly sure what they do with them, but I'm sure there are people who would be willing to pay for unfettered and free internet access, as well as access to their corporate intranets.

A few weeks ago I was staying in a motel in small-town Saskatchewan, which advertised "internet access". In my room, I booted up my laptop and found 4 wireless connections, two of which were unsecured; not knowing which one was the motel's connection (maybe both?), I went ahead and used both, depending on signal quality. Later, I learned that the motel's only "internet access" was a hard-wired PC sitting near the front desk which was available to guests! Therefore, some generous souls in the neighborhood of the motel had been giving me unwitting and free internet service, which was much appreciated.

   
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Old 05-29-2008, 08:45 AM   #3
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I wasn't really thinking about the illegal use of the internet - but how easy it would be to gain access to their machines and all their personal details kept on it.

Identity theft is big business these days. Crooks can run up huge debts for the people concerned.

My point is don't make it any easier for them, protect your data.

Doug
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Old 05-29-2008, 11:25 AM   #4
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Doug:

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My point is don't make it any easier for them, protect your data
It is difficult for the tyro to know whether his wireless network is secure or not. One of my daugters gave her mother a laptop for Christmas, which would access the Internet via my cable access point; but we were surprised to see the laptop connected to the Web before it had any connection to the access point. Apparently the neighbours on one side of us had an unprotected network; the neighbours on the other side had a wireless network too, but it was protected. By the way, our network is protected—but don’t ask me how!

   
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Old 06-03-2008, 12:44 AM   #5
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By default, BT broadband setups use a WEP key - which is securer than nothing. I guess most totally unsecured networks either come from people buying a router/modem to connect in DIY mode, or using an ISP's setup routine that is very lax about security.

IME, most people do the default thing as it's easiest...
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:28 AM   #6
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By default, BT broadband setups use a WEP key - which is securer than nothing.
That's a flattering way to state it as it's almost no security at all... and for that reason is deprecated.

And BT uses this?? Brilliant.

   
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Old 06-03-2008, 03:13 AM   #7
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And BT uses this?? Brilliant.
As supplied to the user, the BT Home Hub (as it is called!) has WEP64 set up as default with a pre-defined passkey. Simple instructions are provided on how to connect laptop or whatever using this security level. However, WPA and WPA_TSK are user configurable on the router.

The use of WEP 64 has been discussed on user groups, and the reason given for using this as standard is that it some degree of security adequate for most users, and even old PCs and laptops will be able to connect using this standard of encryption. It would cause a lot of consumer complaints if they sent these things out with a level of encryption pre-set that a lot of people cannot use. I have an early Netgear 802.11b plugin receiver for a laptop that can only handle WEPand I bet there are still a lot of these in use today.

I heard that AOL were sending out some wifi modem/routers with encryption disabled - presumably because AOL users would not know how to enter passkeys as they are more than 4 letters long.

   
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Old 06-03-2008, 05:55 AM   #8
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Lois:

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By default, BT broadband setups use a WEP key - which is securer than nothing
When I had my cable to computer adapter installed, NTL made it clear that routers of any kind had to be provided at my own expense, and NTL gave no guarantee that they would be suitable. That was seven years ago, when most people, including me, were happy to connect to the Internet via one desktop computer; my connection since Christmas has been adapter plus router, to allow my wife Internet access to her laptop, but my daughter set it up, and the only thing I know about protection is that WPA is streets better than the old WEP, and that is what we have: but I still do not know anything about passwords or how to set them up.

   
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Old 05-29-2008, 10:02 AM   #9
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There's a whole subclass of the hacker fraternity that call themselves--IIRC-- "war drivers" (or a similar pretentious term), who cruise up and down city streets with a laptop, cataloguing all the unsecured WiFi addresses.
But one can buy an antenna, at various signal strengths, (perhaps called a cantenna), to pick up wi-fi free all the time from the home. An antenna connection card is necessary, but these can be a USB attachment. Is this legal?? There are many establishments that offer free wi-fi internet anyway, and I guess one could just tap in with the antenna. I think an inexpensive antenna is $40 retail, a better one $80, and the antenna card about $50.

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Old 06-03-2008, 12:41 AM   #10
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In the UK, it isn't. One can be (and people have been) charged with stealing electricity from the unsecured LAN's owner - which is dumb as it's the bandwidth being stolen, not any electrons! That was the charge in the olden days if you tapped into someone's land line to use the phone service for free (?phreaking? I think it was called)
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