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Wireless Anyone?

Tony Alicea
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Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 3222
    
    5
Wireless anyone?
I just moved to a nicer place (a house instead of an apartment) in which my FianFriend (word made up by me!) Susan is going to join me this month (a first one for both of us!)
I never had the need to share a broadband internet connection but now I will. In addition to my main PC, my 1.5 yr. old laptop is also not too shabby (15" display, P4 2.0Mhz w/512MB of PC-800 RAM and 40GB HD, network card, even internal FireWire, Win XP).
So there's going to be three PCs (adding Susan's) in the house and I thought that there has to be an efficient way by now without laying cables all around the house to all share the very high bandwidth (sometimes 2.7 Mbps) to the internet provided by the cable company, Adelphia.
I had heard of wireless solutions so I investigated the issue, including security and privacy, since essentially you will have a radio station broadcasting to about 300 feet so anyone with the proper equipment could see your stuff and/or use your connection to the Internet by joining your wireless network surreptitiously.
So after doing my homework, I chose the 802.11g technology (which is backwards compatible with "old" 802.11b).
The problem with the original security mechanism that came with Wi-Fi, called WEP (Wireless Equivalent Privacy) was that it was flawed from the start. It was shown early on, that it could be cracked in a matter of 5-6 hours on a busy wireless network with software tools that are now freely available on the Internet. But you still need to be technically savvy.
One needs to collect millions of packets before being able to crack the encryption so a home user that uses a wireless network doesn't have to worry as much as a big enterprise that uses a busy one where packets are flying around constantly.
Besides, if you see someone parked in your street (like where I live now) for a long time and with an antenna on top of the car, you should call the police!
In apartment complexes I suppose the risk is greater since you may not know what equipment your neighbors may have.
ANY WAY, the Wi-Fi Alliance, in conjunction with the IEEE have come up with a much improved security mechanism including authentication, called WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access).
Almost all 802.11g equipment sold now is upgreadable to WPA through firmware update (for the access point/router) and updated software drivers (for the adapters like PC Cards or USB devices).
I bought the Netgear WGT624 Wireless Firewall Router which also servers as a four port wired router with built in firewall with SPI (Stateful Packet Inspection) as well as the common NAT (Network Address Translator).
According to the popular site Gibson Research Corp (grc.com - Shields Up!) my PCs behind the firewall essentially don't exist for unwelcome intruders.
I disabled the Norton software firewall since I don't need it anymore (I kept the virus program, of course).
For the laptop I bought the CardBus (32-bit) PC Card (Netgear) Model WG511T - which in conjunction with the mentioned router, allows me to transfer data from one computer to the other at up to 108Mbps (if I wanted to use it for that).
Any wireless battle stories out there?


Tony Alicea
Senior Java Web Application Developer, SCPJ2, SCWCD
HS Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Simon's Security glitch on Open Wireless Network
School kid's are the ones who are most likely to buy a simple program to break the Wi-Fi encryption apparently.Perhaps you don't think it's an issue if you have upgraded to the 802.11g technology?
[ January 02, 2004: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Tony Alicea
Desperado
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 3222
    
    5
Thanks for the link to the article. I am subscribed to Technology Review, BTW.
That's why I did my homework before buying the access point/router/firewall and PC Card (for the laptop) and secured my wireless network from time ZERO, using the much stronger WPA.
When visiting, my friends will not have access to my wireless network.
 
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