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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

How Safe You Ain't Part 2

Alan Applegate (K0BG) on August 8, 2005
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How Safe You Ain't

Part Two

This is a follow up of my first article which appeared on eham.net (http://www.eham.net/articles/11247). If you haven't read it, please do before you read this article.

Recently, I stumbled across this web site (http://www.kensington.com/html/3720.html) and my jaw dropped. Here's a simple device which retails for $29.95 which anyone one can use to locate a WiFi signal. This is the exact wordage from the site:

Your life on the road just got a lot easier. You no longer need to cross your fingers as you wait for your notebook to boot up. Just press a button and the Kensington WiFi Finder lets you know if your location is "hot"...instantly. No software or computer needed. What could be easier?

Indeed! What could be easier? Now, if you've missed the point here perhaps I can enlighten you. Some nefarious seeker of WiFi signals could use this device to locate your WiFi network. He could then surf the net, send and receive e-mails, and perhaps send illegal material (child porn for example). The intrepid piggy backer may indeed get himself in trouble in the long run, but it is the WiFi owner who's going to suffer the most!

Adding insult are devices like this one (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16833156161). Please note the range of this device. Oh, but wait! Look here (http://www.wirelessnetworkproducts.com/). Pay particular attention to the links describing WiFi antennas and amplifiers! Before you get bend out of shape, I happen to know an amateur who is using such devices, albeit home brewed. He and a fellow amateur are communicating over a distance of nearly a mile. One of these guys even invited his fellow club members to share his WiFi connection. While his intentions are good (we assume), it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the potential ramifications of such a setup.

He's not alone. Just about every Starbucks Coffee shop has a WiFi network setup for their customers. We have a Hasting's book store here in Roswell, and their HardRock cafe has one. So does our public library, and yours too I bet. How many others are dotted around the country is any ones guess. Using the aforementioned hardware, it is rather simple to find one and use it. As with every aspect of life, there are two sides.

First, it is convenient for the traveler who is far from home, except for his/her connection to the internet. So too for the working stiff who toils away while having his knish and latte at the local coffee shop. I suspect you could come up with a dozen or more examples, all equally viable. Ah, but there is a dark side too.

Just recently in Florida, (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1437366/posts) a man was caught using his neighbors WiFi connection. If you read the story the URL points to, you'll get the point post haste. In short terms, you cannot be too careful with respect to setting up your WiFi network and it many variables.

As I pointed out in the first article, most WiFi routers (nee firewall, hub, etc.) come setup to be wide open. In addition, most computer operating systems come with their network set to DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol). The combination allows anyone within 500 feet or so (much greater distances if antennas and amplifiers are used) to connect to your WiFI network for whatever purpose they choose, dastardly or otherwise.

The responses to my original article contains some very good information about properly setting the parameters of your WiFi interface, whatever it may be. This web page (http://www.wi-fi.org/OpenSection/secure.asp?TID=2) contains just about everything else you need to know about WiFi security. Pay particular attention to the Media Access Control (MAC) Filtering link. The information presented will (should) allow even a neophyte to properly set up his/her security parameters.

As I said, you cannot be too careful. If you just can't figure out what needs to be done, your ISP tech department is the next step. After all, they don't want to deal with interlopers any more than you do.

Alan Applegate, K0BG

www.k0bg.com

Member Comments:
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How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K8MHZ on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Alan,

'Wardriving' is so easy, it can literally be done by mistake.

A couple months ago I decided to teach myself how to set up computer WLANS. My goal was to use it in the field for events and SAR. First, however, I needed to be able to set one up at home.

The local Big Lots store had USB wireless adaptors for 29 bucks. I bought two of them, one for my desktop and one for my laptop. My goal was to be able to have the laptop in my van be able to share files with the desktop in the house.

I set everything up the best I could from inside the house. A very steep learning curve, but I did it. Now, we trekked outside to re-install the laptop into the van for a field test. Difficulties. No way could I 'see' the other computer. But, what the??? I COULD get on to the Internet, which I should not have been able to do.

A bit more investigation revealed that the program that came with the USB adaptors had a 'scanner' in it and worked very well with Windows XP. Too well as the computer had found one of my neighbor's WLANS and logged onto it all by itself! It took some more learning to figure out how to look at all the available connections and choose which one I wanted to connect to.

Later on, I decided to drive around testing a new mapping program I had connected to my GPS. It uses the laptop to show my position on both tropo and photo maps. Really cool, actually. Having finally figured out how to set up my WLAN at home, I set it up, transferred some files I needed, and set forth to depart. Hmm...I wonder how far away I can stay connected? I left the WLAN on and took off. About 1/2 block away, I lost my connection. I drove a couple blocks and stopped at an intersection. I happened to glance down at the computer and noticed that I had a WLAN connection! No way could it be from my house. I took off and lost the connection. Driving through town, the computer would seek out open networks, update the computer's ISP and log onto the strongest network (by signal, not link strength). All by itself. All I had to do was turn on the computer and plug the adaptor in, touching nary a key but to log on to the computer.

In fact, the only way NOT to camp on to open networks while I am driving with the computer on is to unplug the adaptor. Sometimes it 'sees' so many WLANS and logs on and off so fast and so many times it crashes my computer while I am using the GPS program.

I have never been able to 'see' the other computer's files. All that happens is I get an Internet connection. I also have no clue, unless the SSID tells me, as to where the signal is coming from.

I have found that most hotels are hot, but real slow. McDonald's has a by the hour service and the entire city of Grand Haven, Michigan is hot. Day passes from Azulstar in Grand Haven can be had for 5 bucks, monthly the fee is 20 bucks.

So, now wonder WarDriving is so popular! It is just too stinkin' easy.

73,

Mark K8MHZ
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WY3X on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I depend on the generosity of strangers to leave their WiFi connections open when I'm on long trips so I can check e-mail. Now it's a third-degree felony for me to avail myself of this generosity? Heck, I leave my WiFi connection open at home in hopes that I can return the favor when they travel through my neck of the woods!

I'd never THINK of prosecuting someone for availing themselves of my generosity! I'm merely returning the favor to the public that helped me when I needed to check my e-mail. Even my local airport has a wide-open WiFi connection. Nefarious purposes? I guess I just believe everyone is honest until proven otherwise.

I never really thought about any ill purposes that my connection could have been used for. After reading this, I just pulled the plug on my WiFi router. If anyone is travelling through and wants to borrow my connection, call ahead and identify yourself. I'll happily plug back in so you can check your e-mail.

-KR4WM
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by YI9VCQ on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
To protect my computers, I have uninstalled, not just disabled, File and Printer Sharing. My sensitive documents are stored on CD, DVD, flash drive, or USB hard drive. It may be a pain, but I just move the media to the machine when and where I need it.

You mention MAC address filtering as a tool. It is effective on all but the most determined intruders. I recently presented a class to some of my fellow networking specialists on how a MAC address can be spoofed. Most were suprised at how easy it is to do.

My home network consists of two wireless access points protected by WPA encryption and MAC filtering. Also, it is a good idea to disable SNMP service on the access point also, since it is a back door.

Finally, I have an old laptop set up with a wireless USB card. It's sole purpose is to run NSSpyglass, which detects NetStumbler scans. Also, a second computer runs AirSnare, which detects unfriendly MAC addresses attempting DHCP requests on my network.

I take my security a little too seriously since I work as a network and routing sytems tech. LOL.

73,

Korey
YI9VCQ/KA5VCQ
Al Asad, Iraq
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by W5GNB on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Great points Alan

And you are correct in that Anyone can hack into an OPEN system. I recently had a case where a customer suddenly was not able to connect to her local networked computers in the office. Upon investigation of the problem, I found that someone in the office had "upgraded" the network system with a Wireless Wi-Fi but did not read the manual, they simply plugged in and connected.

It turns out that they were connected to another wireless network in an adjacent office (a lawyers office I might add) and they were able to see things they should not be able to see. Both of these wireless systems had been set up with no regard to privacy or security.

If you are going to use these wireless WI-FI's, you need to be familiar with how to set the passwords, incription, and network addressing prior to putting them into operation.

It can get you in real trouble if you are keeping any sensitive materials on your computers.
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by VA3CDG on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I work in the IT support field, the only industry where the customer is ALWAYS wrong. All you need to to to secure yourself properly is RTFM! (Read the farking manual.) Almost every home wireless broadband router is capable of being 100% rock solid secure. It is idiots (99% of the general public) who do not read anything, EVER, that have these problems. I should mention too that so called professionals are idiots too. I have guys making 8 times my salary calling me up so I can do thier work for them.

My recomendation to everyone. If you don't know what you are doing find someone who does and pay them to do it for you and then after words don't try to "FIX" what they have done. When you try to "FIX" things you just end up breaking them and have to pay us more money to correct your dumbass mistakes.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by GOODBUDDY on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"My recomendation to everyone. If you don't know what you are doing find someone who does and pay them to do it for you and then after words don't try to "FIX" what they have done. When you try to "FIX" things you just end up breaking them and have to pay us more money to correct your dumbass mistakes."


Not all of us are as perfect as you. We LIKE to use trial and error to get equipment working the way it should. I suspect that you work as an employee for somebody. If you were in business for yourself that type of attitude would keep you in business for about 2 weeks.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by VA3CDG on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Breaker, breaker 1 9, how 'bout it GOODBUDDY.

I assume you don't know about creating and maintaining nukes right? Are you gonna tinker and see if you can get them working right? And before you say, "Well how can you compare that?" A nuke can destroy your life. Having your identity stolen by someone can be even worse...your life can be destroyed, but you are still alive through it in this case.

Security is not for unknowledgable people to "tinker" with. Especially in this day and age.

"IF you DON'T KNOW what you are doing.", I said. If you do know what you are doing by all means, tinker away, get it working right. Make sure you read the docs.
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K2TRU on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Alan – enjoyed both articles (and I love your web site too).

WiFi connections are a piece of cake to find, use, abuse…whatever. Check this out: I’m on a flight from Florida to New York somewhere over the Carolinas. I pull out my notebook computer to get some work done, and I realize (too late) that I’m breaking in-flight rules because my notebook is looking for a WiFi connection (as it’s supposed to do…except on an airplane).

And guess what? It found one. I picked up a Sheraton Hotel hotspot somewhere 30,000 plus feet below me…and my connection was outstanding! How long this would have lasted at 500 MPH we’ll never know…I quickly disabled the wireless (Bluetooth too) and tried to appear nonchalant…

If there was ever any doubt, does everyone now understand Alan’s point?

JAY
K2TRU
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KC0LPV on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I do object to the general idea that anyone connecting to an open WiFi network is "nefarious".

Of course there /are/ nefarious types looking to hack networks, and that is certainly a bad and illegal thing. However, any general user who accesses the internet through an open WiFi connection is perfectly well in the right.

Good analogies are hard to come by, but WiFi is like a park bench. If you buy a park bench and put it in your living room, you have every right to complain if a stranger enters your house and sits on your bench.

Similarly, if you have a WiFi connection with the SSID broadcast disabled, MAC address filtering enabled, or encryption enabled, you have every right to complain if someone connects without your permission.

However, if you go install your park bench in a park, you have no basis to complain when the general public sits on your bench.

Similarly, if you set up your router to be completely open and accept any connection, you have no right to complain when the general public uses your connection. It is reasonably assumed that /you meant the connection to be open/.

The solution is simple: WiFi hardware should be sold in a default setting that has security _enabled_, so that clueless people won't negligently fail to take even the most basic steps to secure their connection.

Why don't the manufacturers do this? Probably because they want it to be as "Plug and Play" as possible, and they know that many people who can't even set the digital clock on their microwave will nevertheless purchase complicated computer hardware and expect it to "just work". In other words, tech support calls would increase, and the manufacturers would have to actually support their products properly.

Jim
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K7NNG on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
so,,,,,,,whats this got to do with HAM RADIO??????
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by X-WB1AUW on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Dunno.

But, BG has great prose.
Bob
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N9EYL on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Yup, I have used one of those Kensington wireless finders. I bought one but took it back for TWO reasons. One it is as good at finding Microwaves, as it is Wireless Routers. Two is that use of this thing assumes you would have a problem finding a wireless router without it! That is an awfully big assumption. Plus this key fob do-dad doesn't tell you if it is open or not. NetStumbler on a laptop does a much better job!

I PERSONALLY RUN MY WIRELESS ROUTER WIDE OPEN with a repeater in the attic for good signal coverage with no dead spots in coverage which 802.11 can have a lot of. I know a couple of my friends that do too! In Germany some people put blue dots on top of their house when they do this so other people will know that they are wide open. I wish we had some kind of system like that here too so there would be kind of a free mobile wireless internet here too. Maybe that is where Ham Radio ties in as WE are the Primary user of a good part of this band not the ISM types. Wouldn't that be neat to have a wireless High Speed Internet established nationwide for hams by hams using cheap slightly modified 802.11 hardware???

As for PC security I DO run a firewall on all of my computers because somebody can get into your computer almost as easily from the internet half way around the world as they can your wireless router in your driveway!

I also have all of the Billyware NETBEUI File and printer sharing turned off because it is about as unsecure as you can get! NETBEUI was a Microsoft protocol that was written back before Microsoft decided to take TCP/IP and the Internet seriously and it is used for file and print sharing with next to no security by modern standards. The problem is it is normally turned on unless you remove it or turn it off depending on what version of Billyware you are running. With NETBEUI enabled somebody can get in your windows box through your high-speed connection even if you don't have a wireless connection. Even if you are running WEP to your router they can use it to establish a peer-to-peer network with your wireless PC directly without even going through your super dupity secure router! That is why if you are REALLY WORRIED about security you should have you're wireless adapter shut off. Remember that the wireless adapter can be a wireless access point to your PC! It is after all a TRANSCEIVER.

Let me rephrase that for the super dupity secure types. Winders comes with NETBEUI enabled almost all of the time for file and print sharing unless setup otherwise. If you aren't familiar with what that is your's is probably wide open. If you are running Winders with a wireless adapter somebody with maybe less than just a little effort can explore your hard drive regardless of how secure your connection to the wireless router and the Internet is.

Also, if you don't have DHCP disabled on your PC you might connect to your neighbor's router automatically as easy as you do your own! There are ways around this but most wireless products tend to be very "Promiscuous" out of the box. After all how does that new D-Link adapter know that you want to connect to your router with the default setup and not your neighbors router with the default setup???

Also, if you were really worried about security you wouldn't be running wireless with or without WEP anyway. You would be hard wired behind a firewall of some sort. Do you know of any banks or airports that run wireless to their mainframes?? There are at least three tools out there now for cracking WEP with just a little effort. Airsnort is one of the suite of them. WPA is already on the way to replace WEP but it is only on the newest of the wireless routers and adapters. You would need WPA for both your wireless Router and PC adapter before it would do any good.

If you are really worried about security run a hard-wired LAN behind a firewall or don't connect to the Internet at all. And if you are not using your PC power it off! Having you computer powered off is sure to stop all but the most determined hackers. :)

But, if you're driving through Danville, IN and you need to connect to the Internet feel free to drive by because MY ROUTER (not my PC) IS WIDE OPEN NEIGHBOR. Just do me a favor and if you plan on breaking in the house when you stop by be sure to knock first as it gives me a chance to reload. ;)

Jeff Merrow
AE9J
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KF6XA on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Rather than a park bench, I think WiFi is like my neighbor playing music in his back yard. Most of the time, I like it, so I listen. If he didn't want me to listen, he'd turn it down, or play it inside.

Also, he occasionally barbecues, and he's a great chef. I love smelling his work ... from my side of the fence.

And on the 4th of July, he buys the greatest fireworks you can find. We sit on our upstairs balcony and watch.

So here's the analogy ... these things, and WiFi, are privately obtained and funded, but not secured, and so are operated with the implicit understanding that they may be incidentally enjoyed by nearby persons. The casual unintended use by the neighbors does not increase the cost to the provider, nor take away from his enjoyment of them. If the provider wanted to, he could "secure" his WiFi, music, smoke, and I suppose he could have his fireworks indoors, or just not have them.

Even though the person with the open WiFi system does not suffer economically, his agreement with his provider probably states that he is not supposed to permit use of the network off his premises. It would probably be a breach for him to offer to share his connection and to split the cost with you, but as it is not technically possible for him to cause RF to stop at the fence line (and since presumably he doesn't know you're sharing), he probably is not at fault. So I think you're not stealing from your neighbor, but you may be stealing from his provider.

I'm talking morally or ethically here, not legally. On the other hand, what if you decide to set up a music-swapping server and connect via your neighbor's service? I'd say now you've probably crossed the line, because you've probably made his connection way too slow, and opened him to trouble with his provider, who probably also prohibits servers.

 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KC0ERG on August 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"I wish we had some kind of system like that here too so there would be kind of a free mobile wireless internet here too."

There is. It's some sort of code like the hobos used to use. I *would* look it up, but I'm at work right now and I don't think the IT department would appreciate it. :-)

A coworker saw a bit on a news program awhile back about how wide open most commercial systems are. They were wardriving and the guy showed some of their "hotspot code" painted on the sidewalk. If you didn't know to look (like most people), you would think it was some sort of utility company or surveying marking.

It's called "warchalking". Naturally, warchalking.org has more info.

Jason
KC0ERG
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K4RAF on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Alan,

I enjoyed both articles & hope you will continue to discuss the whole subject of WiFi 802.11 & security. We need more of this as it is new & attracting far more activity than anyone ever dreamed of. Perhaps more wifi people will become licensed as a result of dropping CW. We can only hope. Be prepared for the usual "what does this have to do with ham radio" quirk. It is coming, for sure...

I travel quite a bit in my line of work. I enjoy the hospitality of others leaving their APs wide open. Not for nefarious purposes but just to stay in touch with email & weather. First thing I do when in a new area is fire up NetStumbler, do a scan, then see what I can associate with through XP dogware. I carry spare PCMCIA radio cards, some coaxial jumpers & a couple of directional antennas for "special DX circumstances". I carry a compact 13dbi 90 degree panel & a 20dbi yagi, all were purchased for well under $25 each. Very inexpensive...

This setup has allowed me to stay connected +90% of the time away from home (I'm limited to dialup there) without paying the $80 or so for wireless access via Verizon broadband & the others offering EV-DO/UMTS services.

The RAFmobile even has a 7db magmount for mobile roaming & detection. Wifi has become the biggest "fun activity" in radio (for me) right now.

Next learning activity: Linux...

k4raf@yahoo.com
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K0BG on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
One of the items I should have added to the story is the penalty for stealing someone else's internet connection. If you do so with intent (this is the key word here, and why I used the term nefarious) it is a federal felony! With a little searching on the FCC web site(s), you can find the rules which govern WiFi access. Be prepared, however, as the stuff is as dry as burnt toast.

If you openly allow other users to access your network, fine. Here too there is a problem. If you read deep enough into the FCC rules on WiFi (and more specifically the rules governing internet interconnections), and assuming you don't pay your ISP for the additional connections, you're committing a federally enforceable crime.

As a sidelight, here is a web page (pdf) which makes interesting reading, albeit a little dated. http://ftp.fcc.gov/realaudio/presentations/2002/042902/wagner.pdf

For the post asking what this has to do with amateur radio....

I suspect that well over 80% (perhaps as high as 90+%) of the active amateurs use a computer in one form or another. I further suspect the majority are internet connected. For example, there are 21 regular members who check into our Morning Side net group. Every single one of them has an internet connected computer in their ham shack. I have no idea how many of them are WiFI, but I'd guess the majority are. This is due in part to the fact that wireless units are cheaper than wired ones, thanks to mail-in rebates (wired routers average $30, wireless ones less than $20).

I thank all of you for your kind comments.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by LNXAUTHOR on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
- article is alarmist without providing specifics, indicating inexperience with practical security

- definition of an 'open' system varies; availability of DHCP without using WEP (useless in itself) does not necessarily constitute a problem, depending on how your server is configured, what protocols are allowed on the subnet, what type of firewalling rulesets are in place, and how access to LAN hosts is configured

- default settings in wireless devices such as intelligent routers constitute the majority of problem hardware and potential problems... for example, the default management user and password pair for Verizon's DSL Westell Versalink 802.11g router is, you guessed it, 'user' and 'password'...

- problems arise because the majority of users have neither the knowledge nor the inclination to lock down home systems... these clueless users (almost without exception consumers of Microsoft products) then become problem users by having their PCs turned into remotely controlled computers, known as zombies, used to participate in DOS, or denial-of-service attacks; or worse yet, SPAM relays, or spreaders of virus infections, worms, or trojans...

- setting DHCP to provide only one or two IP addresses and using OpenSSH for workstation and server communications can eliminate all but the most determined intruders...

- btw, 'hackers' are not the bad guys... the people to watch out for are 'crackers' or 'black hat' operators... please use proper terminology or you will sound (read) like a n00b!

:-)

- one of the easiest and best ways to avoid having a problem is to use Mac OS X, one of the BSDs (Open, Net, or Free), or Linux... (although any OS can be made to open insecurely)
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K0MUL on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
MAC filtering doesn't work either.

etherchange...

http://ntsecurity.nu/toolbox/etherchange/

Deion "Mule" Christopher

K0MUL
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KE4ZHN on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
If people who buy wireless routers would bother to read the manual, they wouldnt get their connection hijacked. Out of the box these things are set up for plug and play, and most people leave them this way because they are too stupid or too lazy to read the manual. By taking just a few minutes to configure the routers security and built in firewall, they wouldnt have any problems.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N8VCL on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Wasn't there enough fear, uncertainty and doubt (and some misinformation) in part one?
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KC9HXG on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
To make things even worse, the bad guys are making use of 'cantenna' to be able to access wifi networks from a distance, making them all but impossible to catch. Some are achieving 12db using this design.

http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/448
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K0BG on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Scott, since you didn't publish your e-mail address...

No, part one was not enough. The article about the Florida, hacker tells only part of the story. The hacker was charged with a federal felony, and is free on a $10,000 bond. If you believe the rumors, the trial will be on CourtTV at the request of the feds. They want to make an example out of this guy due to the content of the e-mails he was sending.

The owner of the wireless net was not charged, as he could have been. The issue here is simple. While this doesn't directly relate to amateur radio, if it keeps just one poor ham out of trouble with the feds, it was worth the effort. You get convicted of a federal crime (sometimes is just takes being charged with one), and your ham ticket goes with it!

I'll even make a prediction; In the next few months (6 to 18), there will be a slew of federal charges filed on similar activities. If you had listened to the new chief commissioner's inaugural address, you'd know why.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WM3T on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I really enjoyed the articles. I have to impart some wisdom from the Linux Side of life. Besides, most hackers that are serious about cracking a network will not be using Windows.

I have read with interest the number of people who have NetStumber installed. This is not my opinion, but is documented, NetStumbler is a horrible wireless sniffing program. Any program that is supposed to be locating a wireless network should not be probing for them. I personally use Kismet for wireless sniffing. It also shows probing devices. Kismet looks for networks in a passive mode, meaning, it is not sending out information, just receiving! If you think WEP is all you need to keep you safe, take a look at this:
http://whoppix.hackingdefined.com/Whoppix-wepcrack.html

The WEP key was cracked in 10 MINUTES!! This is a very interesting video.

The best defense is to turn SSID Broadcast off, run WEP, and if you have the capabilities, WPA. MAC filtering can be defeated very easily. I can spoof a MAC address with one command. This is not the place to give loads of information, but a "Man-in-the-Middle" attack on a wireless network is well documented on the web.

When I am at home on the wireless network, I always run all my traffic from the laptop through an ssh tunnel to another machine that then passes the data on.

The best advice is to use a wired connection if you are doing your online banking, unless you want to give someone access to your money!

I look at the wireless network just like I do ham radio. If I don't want anyone to know what I am doing, I go WIRED or encrypted tunnel.

Just more food for thought.

73 de
Anthony, WM3T
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N9EYL on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I can't believe we have missed the chance in this thread to point out that the safest form of digital communications for n00bs is CW!
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N0AH on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
This reminds me of a Hamfest..................you know, when you go you expect to see a lot radio gear and all you see are computer tables. I read both articles, well written and informative. But I'll ask the same question others have asked.........what does this have to do with Ham radio? No insult intended, but I just don't get it when the Forum guys put this stuff on. Computer.net is a better place.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N9EYL on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Well I tried to turn it toward a free mobile net for hams by hams since we are considered to be the primary users of this band not the ISM guys.

But the chicken little's and the "Repeater Police" where quick to point out that I could be fined $10,000 or go to jail and lose my ticket for leaving my router wide open.

Although I do think that this "Mobile Net" is something that us hams, especially the more net savy programming types could come up with. It would be of a great benefit for things like public safety and emergency communications. I think that with a little bit more power and some better antennas 802.11b could blow packet's capabilities away.

But we need to be playing with our wireless stuff. Experimenting whith oatmeal box antennas, etc. Not living in total fear of how it can wreck our lives like an a-bomb if it is not 100% setup right. I didn't come up with the a-bomb analogy somebody else did.

I mean how can somebody compare playing with 10 milliwatts at 2.4Ghz to an A-bomb???
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KT4XF on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Nat'l HOBO Convention, Britt,Iowa, Aug 8th-13th... .. .. de Toledo Bogeymann, KT4XF
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KT4XF on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
nat'l HOBO conv., Britt, Iowa, Aug 8th-13th.. .. .. de Toledo Bogeymann, KT4XF
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KT4XF on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
nat'l HOBO conv., Britt, Iowa, Aug 8th-13th.. .. .. de Toledo Bogeymann, KT4XF
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WM3T on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I guess I forgot to mention, if you are in my neighborhood, my SSID is 0--^--^000--^- (WM3T in CW for the CW Challenged ;-) No flames please!) I will provide the WEP Key to you when you are in the neighborhood!

On a more serious note, this may have just saved someone from having their home network hacked, which will save them some trouble trying to recover their computerized log.

(Flame-proof helmet on . . . and go!)

73 de
Anthony, WM3T
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N0AH on August 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
MFJ-974H tuners are good for getting hooked to your WeFi system. Look at reviews on Eham- A lot of hams are giving it a 4 out of 5. Read the details of their reviews and you wonder if 4 means really bad or if 4 means worthless? It looks like however that you can really use it on your security measures for your WeFi card. It also makes great sauce on chinese food when put into a blender- As long as the meter indicators are not falling apart inside the box. Congrads Martin. We all thank you-Really..............
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N1IK on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Here's the deal:

For a HOME LAN, use WPA-PSK. WPA-PSK is vulnerable to dictionary attacks, so use a long key.

Since I have people over who want to use my LAN, I use a 40-60 character (63 is the max) sentence I can easily remember or keep in my wallet.

For the ultimate, you can try a key generator, such as:

http://www.kurtm.net/wpa-pskgen/

But I don't like the key generator approach as it makes sharing the key too hard and doesn’t really add that much security (i.e. a brute force attack will find it in roughly the same time).

You will never stop a serious hacker from getting in, but you can make it pretty hard.

In the case of WPS-PSK with LONG keys, it would be easier for the hacker to break into the house to get your bits vs. trying to find the key.

Best 73,

N1IK
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K5UJ on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Do you have to have a ham license to operate WiFi?
Is there a bandplan? How do you have a qso on WiFi?
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K4RAF on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Staying at hotels with free wifi, promoted as such, is not a crime. Because I carry equipment to solidify the signal is not either. It is RF, simple as that or should I say "radio"...

For the coward who emailed me, grow a set & stop being a child...
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by AC0H on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
<<"Of course there /are/ nefarious types looking to hack networks, and that is certainly a bad and illegal thing. However, any general user who accesses the internet through an open WiFi connection is perfectly well in the right">>

ABSOLUTELY, POSITITVELY, WRONG!!

Anyone aceessing a network for which they do not have explicit access permission is breaking federal law. PERIOD.

The fact that the network admin hasn't installed any security has NO bearing.

 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WILLY on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"<<"Of course there /are/ nefarious types looking to hack networks, and that is certainly a bad and illegal thing. However, any general user who accesses the internet through an open WiFi connection is perfectly well in the right">>

ABSOLUTELY, POSITITVELY, WRONG!!

Anyone aceessing a network for which they do not have explicit access permission is breaking federal law. PERIOD. ..."

Then obviously something is wrong with the law. Probably created by people who were not thinking.

This is easy to illustrate: If you don't want me to 'hear' your transmissions, then keep them off my antenna. Recieving a signal is a passive activity. The moment we begin to say it is illegal to to recieve a signal that has been radiated into free space, we have crossed into a realm of restricting personal freedom. That is nuts.

As far as the other half of the operation: The law certainly MAY regulate my transmission of a signal. Obviously we all agree with that, in a forum such as this. Furthermore, transmitting is not passive, but quite active, so regulation makes good sense.
But, in this case, the individual's computer(s) sending to an open WIFI hub - that transmission is legal. Thus, the onus is on the operator of the hub to keep undesired users out - and it is apparent that the manufacturers of the equipment realize this, as they provide excellent means to accomplish it. The other solution, that is 100% reliable, is to simply turn off their reciever. Then no one can access their computer - period.

The original poster is right - regarding wireless connections, there is no such thing as illegal hacking - and if there is, then something is wrong with the law, and we are setting precedents that will come back to haunt us.
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N9RGX on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"HSMM, or High Speed Multimedia, is the name of an ARRL sponsored technical project to introduce high speed data radio to amateur radio. HSMM generally uses standard internet protocols, so that regular applications such as web, ftp, email and other applications can run over it without modification. The popular license free 802.11a/b/g services operate on bands that overlap amateur frequency allocations, giving us cheap hardware that can be used in in part 97 operation…"

So yes you can use 802.1 as an Amateur Radio Operator and You can use more than one watt if you are a Ham. YOu do however have to play by the rules in Part 97.

 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KC9HXG on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"Recieving a signal is a passive activity. The moment we begin to say it is illegal to to recieve a signal that has been radiated into free space, we have crossed into a realm of restricting personal freedom."

Do you know much about TCP/IP? The protocol broadcasts all network traffic to all machines on a network, yet it is illegal for me to bring a machine in and capture said packets. Even though these packets are being broadcast in an open network.

And just because the mail server is wide open with no security does not mean I'm allowed to access that server. If I'm caught accessing the open mail server and reading other's email, I can be prosecuted for intrusion.

They are not saying it's illegal to receive the signal. They are saying it's illegal to use the signal. If a lawyer/medical professional accidentally transmits a fax to my fax machine via misdial, it's illegal to use the information obtained from those faxes.

Air waves are 1 thing, but when data is added to those airwaves, the laws get very very tricky.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WILLY on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"Do you know much about TCP/IP?"

Why?


"The protocol broadcasts all network traffic to all machines on a network, yet it is illegal for me to bring a machine in and capture said packets. Even though these packets are being broadcast in an open network. "

Network?
By "open" network, do you mean wireless?

If you meant wireless, and if it is illegal to receive such transmissions, then obviously something is wrong with the law. The solution is simple, like I said, if you don't want me to receive it, then keep it off my antenna.


"And just because the mail server is wide open with no security does not mean I'm allowed to access that server. If I'm caught accessing the open mail server and reading other's email, I can be prosecuted for intrusion. "

Again, wireless or not?

If wireless, did my transmissions come from a legal transmitter? If they did, then the whole thing should be perfectly legal. If you don't want me in your email server, then unplug its receiver.


"They are not saying it's illegal to receive the signal."

Good.


"They are saying it's illegal to use the signal."

Use the signal? or the information in the signal?
This is a gray area, isn't it?


" If a lawyer/medical professional accidentally transmits a fax to my fax machine via misdial, it's illegal to use the information obtained from those faxes. "

Which has nothing to do with this conversation. Normally, fax machines are connected to hard wired phone systems, and they are completely different under the law. Easy to see - the wire can be 'owned' and everything on it. The air cannot.
Next, the information handled by a professional, if used, becomes a civil matter. The regulation of transmitters and receivers is not a civil matter between parties.


"Air waves are 1 thing, but when data is added to those airwaves, the laws get very very tricky. "

Perhaps.
But the clarity of thinking must be applied to: who is responsible for what, when transmitting and receiving.
This must be applied BEFORE even considering civil matters regarding the info that is transmitted.
This is especially true with receivers. As soon as we allow ourselves to be put in the situation where a passive activity such as receiving a radio signal is illegal, we are opening the door for all sorts of loss of freedom. The bottom line, again, : If you don't want me to recieve it, then keep it off my antenna.
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by AA6VO on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
A timely article just appeared on cnn.com: "Stealing Your Neighbors Net" -
http://money.cnn.com/2005/08/08/technology/personaltech/internet_piracy/index.htm?cnn=yes
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by CPLRADAR on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
When WiFi first started about 10 years ago, yes it's been almost 10 years now (It officially debuted at the same show as Bill Gate's inveiling of WIN 98 Beta in 1996 where 98 Beta crashed continuing the trend that started when Windows 95 crashed at it's unveiling), none of the security protocols existed. WEP was the first security measure used in WiFi, they are now on the 3rd generation security protocols for Wifi. Most of the protocols were actually created by Wargamers trying to secure there own networks. Hackers are the ones who actually improve security, which is why most IT security firms have at least one on the payroll.

According to a recent study by Hackers Underground, 15% of people in the U.S. who use wireless networks are actually connecting to the internet through someone else's network without knowing they are. Go stand in an apartment complex with a WiFi capable notebook and Windows XP will automatically connect you to the strongest unsecured signal, and usually detect proxy settings to get you on the internet. No additional software or hardware needed. 98% of

Wireless networks in the country are unsecured. There is also another way to get free internet, many new DSL and cable routers have WiFi capabilities, and even though you may be using a Cat5 cable to you computer the router may still be sending out the WiFi signal, allowing you neighbors to use your internet.

I recently installed a wireless network in my sisters house. When I went in to check the settings through the windows interface, I found 12 unsecured networks that I could access, some were even named so I could tell which neighbor they were!!
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N9EYL on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I would like to know what coward wrote K4RAF to tell him it was wrong to have Wi-Fi equipment and special antennas.

I mean I travel and I have used public hot-spots at hotels and Cafes.

Since when is it against the law to carry Antenna's???

Why don't you be a man a put your call sign up here and tell me it is against the law to carry special wi-fi antennas?

Also if you are going to be a "wireless cop" at least know the rules and regs. Number one we are the primary users of the first half of this 802.11b band NOT the ISM types. That I would think would make the possesion of special Antennas(including homebrew) and transceivers legal for this band.

Non-licensed users are limited to a watt or less depending on the gain of their antenna. Higher gain antenna setups are allowed less power for non-licensed users. But we could run full legal limit into high gain antennas if we needed to in this band. So I don't see how a 200mW Orinco card could be illegal for us.

You're probably like the other quack that compared playing with 802.11b(wireless) to playing with an A-Bomb. Get a life!



Jeff Merrow
AE9J
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by TIMEPILOT84 on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
<<The best defense is to turn SSID Broadcast off, run WEP, and if you have the capabilities, WPA. MAC filtering can be defeated very easily. I can spoof a MAC address with one command.>>

The ONLY defense is WPA. Period. SSIDs are broadcast in the plain with every packet sent, not broadcasting simply inconveniences you when you want to set up a new machine. WEP is a joke. Even 128-bit (actually 104-bit) WEP can be decrypted in short order.

The only way to truely secure your wireless network is to use WPA. Fortunately, WPA doesn't require any more hardware than WEP, so you should look for driver updates and firmware updates that allow you to use the new protocols.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WM3T on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I agree that WPA is better than WEP, but only marginally. WPA can be defeated. View the video here

http://www.crimemachine.com/Tuts/Flash/WPA.html

The WPA was cracked with only 4 packets of data.

I think the best thing to remember is that most people don't have the interest/capabilities to break into a WEP/WPA encrypted network.

I have run some tests with my network and my wireless AP can't be accessed until you are in the driveway. It can't be seen from the road, which is relatively close to the house. This comes from placing the Access points, yes POINTS, in the basement against the concrete wall that is underground. I did this to protect from unauthorized access/cracking attempts.

I am a network consultant, not a hacker, who has to know what is being done to try and infiltrate networks.

73 de
Anthony, WM3T
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KC0LPV on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
>ABSOLUTELY, POSITITVELY, WRONG!!
>
>Anyone aceessing a network for which they do not have
>explicit access permission is breaking federal law.
>PERIOD.
>
>The fact that the network admin hasn't installed any
>security has NO bearing.

I believe it is "Permission" not "Explicit permission". If you don't enable the various simple forms of security, you have left your router open for public use. Period.

Ignorance is no excuse. By providing an open connection which broadcasts its invitation, responds to inquiries, and assigns the inquiring computer an IP address--you have given permission to use your router. Just because you didn't mean to doesn't mean you didn't do it.

I wonder if some people have visitors to their offices arrested for petty theft when a mint is taken from the crystal dish on the edge of the desk...

Jim
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WB2GOF on August 9, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Ho-hum. This is low on most people's priority list. It's not likely these interlopers are out to steal credit card PIN #s, passwords to your bank accounts, or even the dreaded "identity theft". Most likely these characters are just looking for cheap and easy access to the net. Sorta like stealing your bandwidth. Not the kind of thing to raise national security. However, that's not to say if you see someone suspicious around your property you should ignore it. Just that there's no need to get you panties in a bunch, so to speak. My networks has never been encrypted;t rapidly degrades performance. I secure it by allowing only one wireless device to access it: my laptop. And it will only connect once it verifies the MAC address of the wireless device. So I get security without sacrificing performance.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by AC0H on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
<<"This is easy to illustrate: If you don't want me to 'hear' your transmissions, then keep them off my antenna. Recieving a signal is a passive activity. The moment we begin to say it is illegal to to recieve a signal that has been radiated into free space, we have crossed into a realm of restricting personal freedom. That is nuts.">>

Except that isn't how TCP/IP works.
The computer trying to access the WAP has to initiate the 3 step hand shake process. As soon as you do that, whether you're recieving broadcast packets or not, you've broken the law.

Most responsible commercial users of Wi-Fi run encryption and access control on their WAP's. I suspect those that don't have made a conscious decision not to, ala Starbucks, and that's just fine. We're talking about accessing networks the user KNOWS he/she isn't authorized to "just for the fun of it".

 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WILLY on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"By providing an open connection which broadcasts its invitation, responds to inquiries, and assigns the inquiring computer an IP address--you have given permission to use your router. Just because you didn't mean to doesn't mean you didn't do it. "

Bingo.


"I wonder if some people have visitors to their offices arrested for petty theft when a mint is taken from the crystal dish on the edge of the desk... "

Again.

Simple, clear thinking. Thank you.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WILLY on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"Except that isn't how TCP/IP works. "

Wireless or hardwired?
We talking about wireless here, right?

Are you saying it is not a radio transmitter/receiver?


"The computer trying to access the WAP has to initiate the 3 step hand shake process. As soon as you do that, whether you're recieving broadcast packets or not, you've broken the law."

Wait a minute. Is the transmitter making a legal transmission or not?

It can't be a legal transmission here, and an illegal transmission 100 feet down the road. That is senseless.


"Most responsible commercial users of Wi-Fi run encryption and access control on their WAP's. I suspect those that don't have made a conscious decision not to, ala Starbucks, and that's just fine. We're talking about accessing networks the user KNOWS he/she isn't authorized to "just for the fun of it".

If the laptop operator has a transmitter that makes legal transmissions, then it should be fine. If not, then the law needs to be fixed.
Either the transmissions are ok or they are not. You simply cannot tell a user that his transmitter is ok sometimes and not ok others. If it is ok, then it is ok all the time, even if his signal lands on somebody else's receiver. If his transmission is legal, then the person operating the receiver should take steps to keep him out. These steps have been discussed here at length. Else, unplug the receiver. That is guaranteed to work.

Now - do you want to make all the laptop transmitters illegal to operate? or what?
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KC9HXG on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
You're looking at this from a ham point of view. You can't do that. 802.11 is not governed by the rules of ham. You're wireless router does not have to transmit your call sign before every broadcast.

Wireless networks are governed by the rules of IT, not the rules of ham.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K0BG on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I ask a federal judge that I know personally in Denver, about this. It took him a couple of hours to look up the law. He says; intentional or not, if you do not have permission, you have committed a federal felony!

How does this relate to a business like Starbucks? Well, they advertise that they have an open network, so they have given their permission for anyone to use it.

On the other hand, if you tap into your neighbor's WiFi, and he didn't give you permission, you have committed a federal felony.

Whether it is EXPRESS or not, permission is required. If you want to get real technical about it, you'd better have the permission in writing. As I said, look out! The FCC is the one in charge here, and they have their instructions from their new boss.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by AC0H on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
<<"If the laptop operator has a transmitter that makes legal transmissions, then it should be fine. If not, then the law needs to be fixed.
Either the transmissions are ok or they are not. You simply cannot tell a user that his transmitter is ok sometimes and not ok others. If it is ok, then it is ok all the time, even if his signal lands on somebody else's receiver. If his transmission is legal, then the person operating the receiver should take steps to keep him out. These steps have been discussed here at length. Else, unplug the receiver. That is guaranteed to work.">>

Wired or wireless makes no difference.
There is a difference between being able to receive the WAP signal, and having permission to access the device and network hanging off of it. Your laptop has to initiate the connection hand shake process. Unless your running some wardriving software it won't do that automatically. Once you make the conscious decision to connect to a network you know you don't have access rights to you've broken the law.

 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WILLY on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"Wired or wireless makes no difference."

Of course it does. It makes ALL the difference.
With a wired system, one can own the system. The owned materials are tangible and occupy a space. One can also own that space. Clearly, it is private property. Owners have the right to keep others off of their private property.

The wireless system is another animal. No one can own the space that radio waves travel through. That is preposterous. That is what you are describing here - a situation where one can be in one's own home, or on a public street, and get in trouble for "using" someone else's computer. They have not intruded onto anyone's private property. All they have done is use a radio transmitter that we have said is legal.
If that other person does not wish their computer to be used, then they should not make it "usable" by just anyone anywhere. Again, if you don't want someone to hear your signal, then keep it off their antenna.



"There is a difference between being able to receive the WAP signal, and having permission to access the device and network hanging off of it."

Why in the world would you need permission to receive ANY signal?
This is the kind of thinking that gets into lots of areas of politics and rights anymore.


" Your laptop has to initiate the connection hand shake process. Unless your running some wardriving software it won't do that automatically. Once you make the conscious decision to connect to a network you know you don't have access rights to you've broken the law. "

Well then, like I've already said, these laws are nuts and need to be fixed.
 
ERP  
by K4RAF on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"legal radiated power limitations of 4 watts (+36 dBm) maximum effective radiated power (ERP). The ERP is the total amount of power actually transmitted through the system’s antenna and it is the product of the transmitter’s power output, the cable’s power loss and the antenna’s gain capability."

Legal Part 15 WiFi: 200mW into 13dB gain = 4 watts max ERP

To the email coward, yea, I'm carrying illegal assault antennas...

Get a life indeed!
 
RE: ERP  
by AC0H on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
<<"Why in the world would you need permission to receive ANY signal?
This is the kind of thinking that gets into lots of areas of politics and rights anymore.">>

You REALLY, REALLY need to educate yourself on how networking and TCP\IP work before posting on this subject again.

 
RE: ERP  
by WILLY on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"You REALLY, REALLY need to educate yourself on how networking and TCP\IP work before posting on this subject again. "

You really, really need to learn to think, and realize that this has nothing to do with a protocol. It is simply a matter of common sense.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KC0TQX on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I've seen a lot of discussion here about whether or not things like disabling SSID broadcast, WEP, etc. is actually effective as security. As far as I know, most people who try to break into a wifi network for either the thrill or free internet are just looking for an easy target. Sure, while enabling WEP and MAC address filtering, and disabling SSID broadcast, probably doesn't do very much for your security, it makes it hard enough for people to break into it that most joyriders would probably skip right over your network. Remember, most of these are people just looking for a cheap thrill. If you make your target even just a little bit harder, it will make most of them just pass you by looking for something easier. Of course, if someone is actually after YOUR network in particular for some reason, that is entirely different. But most of the joyriders are easily discouraged and even basic security will go a long way toward keeping them away.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KE7CDV on August 10, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Willy,

I tend to agree with you in general, but keep in mind that there's already precedent for making the mere reception of signals illegal: Back in the days of the regular old AMPS cell phone system (which used narrowband FM and hence was pretty easy to pick up on any old scanner), after a few well-connected people had their calls taped laws were passed making the interception of such signals a crime.

In my opinion, this probably did nothing but slow down the development of the reasonably secure cell phone systems we have today.

I think that rather than trying to legislate something as clearly gray as whether or not accessing an open WiFi access point is legal or not, a better approach (if the folks in Washington care, and I kinda doubt they do -- or at least it will be until one of them gets hacked!) would be to legislate that all WiFi access points much ship with security enabled by default. This puts all the manufacturers on the same footing, then, insofar as inconveniencing customers (and having to deal with the added number of support calls that would inevitably result). Indeed, I expect that what would happen would be that you'd find a sheet of paper taped to the modem explaining, in 72 pt. type, that security was enabled by default... and providing the fastest way to disable it so that everything works as 'easily' as possible, but at least pointing out what the consequences were of disabling that security.

A couple of companies (Buffalo comes to mind) have made efforts with WiFi to make establishing a secure connection between the access point and network card as simple as pushing a button on the AP and then a similar button on the network card, within, say, 15 seconds, but unfortunately I don't see this approach being standardized.

---Joel Kolstad
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K6TLA on August 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Its time to get real here. I doubt that anyone occasionally using a borrowed wifi connection is doing anything with child porn. That is just simply ridiculous. That said wardriving and the occasional use of a borrowed wifi connection is fun! We've done it while traveling both here and in Europe. Last week while visiting Hawaii I did a quick loop around the town we were staying in with the laptop on the seat, high power wireless card, mag mount 2.4 ghz antenna, and "Netstumbler" running just to see the extent that wifi had penetrated that area. Very interesting indeed and something fun to do while waiting for the rest of my family to wake up one morning. 802.11x connections are unlicensed and therefore are not subject to ownership and privacy concerns. If a user wants privacy he or she needs to be certain that encryption is enabled. BTW we have an access point at home that most definetly is encrypted and we wouldn't have it any other way.

73 and have lots of wifi fun,

K6TLA
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N5GLR on August 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
OK experts, how about a little help?
I intend to make sure all of this good advice on securing my wifi network is put to good use on my system but, how do I know if someone is accessing my wireless network? I suspect that someone, a neighbor, may be accessing my system but, how can I tell for sure? Do I need special software? My wireless modem is from SBC ... who is also my DSL provider.
Any help will be appreciated.

wifi-illiterate
Garry
N5GLR
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N5GLR on August 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
OK experts, how about a little help?
I intend to make sure all of this good advice on securing my wifi network is put to good use on my system but, how do I know if someone is accessing my wireless network? I suspect that someone, a neighbor, may be accessing my system but, how can I tell for sure? Do I need special software? My wireless modem is from SBC ... who is also my DSL provider.
Any help will be appreciated.

wifi-illiterate
Garry
N5GLR
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by N5GLR on August 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Now I see how we get double posts. One browser hick-up is all it takes. Sorry

Garry
N5GLR
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K4RAF on August 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"Very interesting indeed and something fun to do while waiting for the rest of my family to wake up one morning."

It is indeed fun while waiting for ham radio to wake up some day.

BTW: Netstumbling is NOT accessing anything, thus not a felony. It is merely sniffing for SSID's that are being BROADCAST at some automatic interval.

For the life of me, I can't grasp why some of you can't make the connection between WiFi & ham radio:

1) It takes place on radio frequencies (some of which are exclusively ours)

2) It leads to experimentation with antennas, radio & computers

3) It is truly the cutting edge of technology & has changed life in the world forever

4) Ham radio needs to embrace those who are active in this technology, since ham radio has no comparable activity.

Maybe number 3 lead to the wakeup comment. It is true of some of you though...

WAKE UP & stop living in the past!
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WA2DYA on August 11, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
WOW, now I'm really paranoid. I just looked out my window. Sure enough there are two geeks sitting on the fence with laptops. What's that loop antenna aimed toward my router from atop a black 'Water Company' van. Why is it parked in the front of my house? I have a well here! I hear an airplane. Oh no, it's a C130 covered with antenna blisters. Why is it orbiting my house?

If I can find the instructions for my router, I'm going to enable WEP, disable my SSID, turn off DHCP, MAC address filter, set up a VPN and turn on the router firewall. Then I'll reenable the Windows security center and install ZoneAlarm.

I'll be back for help getting my network working again.

--- CHAS
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by TIMEPILOT84 on August 12, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
<<I agree that WPA is better than WEP, but only marginally. WPA can be defeated. >>

<<The WPA was cracked with only 4 packets of data.>>

WPA-PSK is vulnerable to dictionary attacks if a hash of the pre-shared key can be gleaned by listening in on the 4 way handshake used to initiate the connection. It won't work with any old 4 packets, they have to be specifically the 4 that are used in the handshake.

From then on, the attack is a simple dictionary attack. According to articles on the web, coWPAtty, a hacking tool can only hash 30-60 words per minute on a fast, dedicated machine. That means that if your 8 character password isn't in the pre-hashed dictionary, it'll take a very long time for the hackers to brute force your password. If you choose a longer password, the time involved increases geometrically.

This all goes to show that WPA is just as secure as any other password protection scheme available for any purpose.


 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K8MHZ on August 13, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
N5GLR

Try this. Go to the DOS prompt and type ipconfig/all and hit enter.

This should show you all the IP addresses of the computers on the network.

I am no expert. I don't know that I have ever met anything more than self-proclaimed experts. This technology is new to the point that necessary experience doesn't seem to exist. I had one 'expert', a tech at ABC Warehouse that was 'certified' in wireless networking tell me that there was no such thing as an access point router...I had to buy a router from him, and purchase the access point separately...obviously he was confusing an ISP (point OF access) with an access point.

So here is my non-expert advise on security. Attenuate your router's signal so it doesn't transmit outside the area you need to use it. I put mine in my basement and do not use an external antenna. Keep the router off unless you are using it. Use all the security stuff you can get working if you are concerned about the casual user going on line through your provider while you are using your network.

The best security measure takes some effort. You have to turn your transmitter on and off. I guess you need to weigh the importance of the stuff on your computer vs. taking two seconds to turn off your router. And disconnect the power cable. (What are they up to with wake-on-LAN or power-on-LAN these days?)

Keep your truly sensitive stuff on CD's and keep them out of the computer when they aren't in use.

Bottom line....if you want a fully automatic computer system, someone will be able to access it. The easier it is for you to use, the easier it is to compromise.

You could also try the obfuscation method. I think there is a program for Orinoco routers that transmits 50,000 fake network ID's so you and your neighbors can hide in plain sight. It fills up screen after screen on WLAN scanners with spoofed info to hide the real signals. Pretty neat, I think.

But then, for an 'expert' opinion, you would have to ask someone else.

73,

Mark K8MHZ
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by K8MHZ on August 13, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

K8MHZ
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by NJ8J on August 13, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
> This all goes to show that WPA is just as secure as any
> other password protection scheme available for any
> purpose.

Part of the problem is settling for a mere 'password' for WPA. This is something you aren't having to type in often, so using a long passphrase won't be an imposition. Choose a sentence (or a line from a song, a quote from a favorite book, or some such) that is significant to you and use that. That's much less likely to be hackable.
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KI4HCO on August 15, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
As a network engineer, I see this all the time. Really the best way forward is to enable mac address filtering, then only devices that have thier mac address entered into the router can connect.

For home users i wouldnt even bother with security, some may dissagree but the odds...as a home user of getting hacked while using mac filtering a very slim.

Besides there are too many other open wireless networks available in places like appartments blocks to make someone sitting at the end of your drive way with a packet sniffer worth while.
 
detecting users on your network  
by W0ZF on August 15, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
N5GLR -
There's a couple of things you can do to see if someone is using your wireless access.
1. Every network card on every computer has a (supposedly) unique hardware address, called a MAC address. It is usually expressed a string of hex digits, like 00-11-11-12-34-56. In Windows, the command ipconfig /all will show you a bunch of info about each network card in your PC, including it's MAC address. Note that this command shows you info about your PC only, NOT about other machines on the network as another poster said.
Anyhow, some routers have a command that will show you all the MAC addresses that are connecting to the router. You'll need to find a manual for your router to see if it provides this and how to use it, as every manufacturer is a little different. IF your router supports this, you can simply look at it and see if it shows any MAC that's NOT in your computers. THis isn't foolproof, as it's pretty easy to spoof a MAC address, but most people won't bother. Most routers will also let you configure a list of allowed MACs and will refuse to talk to anyone not on the list. Again, this isn't foolproof for the reason above, but eliminates all the accidental connections to your AP.

2. You can install a packet-sniffing program like Ethereal on a PC on your network, and capture some traffic when you suspect someone may be using the network. You need to have some basic knowledge of internet protocols to interpret what you see, though. A little time spent with such a tool and some reference material can help you learn a great deal about what goes on behind the scenes of the network.

3. Get to know the little lights on your router, especially any that show wireless associations or network activity. Watch how they flash almost constantly as you download files, etc., and how they slow down to almost nothing when your PCs are off. You'll quickly get a sense of how busy your local network is by looking at the lights. Then turn your PCs off for awhile and watch the lights when you think someone may be using your wireless. If you see activity that looks like it does when your PC is busy, chances are someone else is using it.

There are many other things one can look at, and I've certainly oversimplified some things here, but those are some easy ways to detect usage of your network. Bottom line is, get familiar with your equipment and with what's normal. Keep in mind that all of the security measures are like locks on doors - some are harder to defeat than others, and their purpose is to make would-be interlopers look for an easier target (there are plenty out there). The more of them you implement, the more hurdles they must jump to use your network. If they just want free Internet, they'll connect elsewhere. If they're targeting YOU, then you may want to take more extreme measures.

73, KA0JNG
 
How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by WB5IRI on August 16, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Dudes, get real. It isn't stealing if something is being given away for free!!!!!!! And just because you set up a system without knowing you were ADVERTISING that it is open and ready for use to all who drop by, that doesn't mean you can get away with calling those who accept your computer's invitation to jump on "nefarious" and "criminal."

The guy who said it was like listening to your neighbor's stereo was partially correct. Here's a better analogy:

Let's say you buy some beer and then you put up a sign saying "Free Beer!" I come by and say, "Hey, man, is the beer really free?" and you answer, "Yep, it sure is, come get some." Then, when you hand me a beer, you think you can have me arrested for stealing your beer?!?

That's how the negotiation between wireless computers works. You set your network up completely open, and it broadcasts a signal saying, in effect, "I'm here! I'm here! Connect to me! The beer is free!" I drive by, and my wireless computer hears your computer's message and says, in effect, "Yo, dude, are you REALLY there and do you REALLY want me to connect, and is the beer REALLY free?" Your computer responds like a metaphoric puppy wagging its tail and says,"Yes! Join Me! It's Easy!" So they connect, share a beer or two, and life is good for both.

If you don't want people to drink your beer, stop telling them it's free. And don't call them criminals if they take you up on your computer's broadcast offer of open access!

Set your network up correctly, don't be a lazy slug, and things will work out fine. If someone hacks your security system, then that is breaking and entering and is illegal. Taking a free ride on your network when invited in by your own software is not illegal.

Now, where's my beer?
 
RE: How Safe You Ain't Part 2  
by KG4WXP on July 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Your laptop has to initiate the connection hand shake process. Unless your running some wardriving software it won't do that automatically. Once you make the conscious decision to connect to a network you know you don't have access rights to you've broken the law. "

Eh...that's not true on either count.

Most laptops nowdays AUTOMATICALLY search for and connect to any nearby wireless network.

Second, New York courts set the precedent on this, from what I've heard, with the concept that it's the wireless network owner's responsibility to put up the 'virtual no tresspassing sign'.
 
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