Wireless network security help!

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Timon Russo, Feb 24, 2005.

  1. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a linksys wireless router and connected to it is a DSL modem and 2 (wired) PCs. We also have a laptop elsewhere in the house that connects wirelessly. I know the neighbors can see the wireless network, so my questions are, what do I need to do security-wise to make sure people can't steal bandwidth or see files?

    I really struggled setting up WPA and WEP originally, so I gave up, thinking I would just not explicitly share any sensistive data. Was I wrong about this? Recently, someone said I should filter the MAC addresses, so I added the laptop's MAC address(es) to the filter list today. Everything seems to work fine still, so any need for anything else?
     
  2. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    one day i noticed another wireless network, which i could see and hop on to -- which kinda scared me. that kicked my butt into gear. i enabled wep and did a few other things as well...check out this link.

    http://www.linksys.com/edu/page10.asp
     
  3. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

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    Ted, thanks. I did everything it says and am pretty confident now.
     
  4. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    You should at least implement WEP on your wireless router and laptop. The Linksys device driver for the PCI adapter I'm using does not support WPA (although the Linksys wireless router does), so I used the wireless adapter support built into Windows XP to setup WPA. WEP, though, should be pretty easy to implement -- just pick a static WEP key for both the router and laptop (they need to match).

    WPA is more secure than a static WEP key (your WPA key will change automatically, making it much tougher to break). However, WEP should at least keep the casual nearby PC users off your private network.
     
  5. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    hey scott - since he used mac filtering, isn't that even better then wpa? from what i can tell, it doesn't get any more specific then that??? not sure...
     
  6. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    I've wondered the same, Ted. While I've enabled 128 bit WEP, disabled SSID, and turned on mac address filtering, I've wondered if all I really need is to specify which mac addresses have access to the router (I have a Netgear WGR614v5).

    The reason why I've wondered is that lately, I'll occassionally lose my wan access or even if the wan access is okay, my internet access goes down. So I thought perhaps the multitudes of security barriers might have an impact on access and stability.

    Off the topic...for those who have a Linksys WRT54G router, what's up with this Sveasoft firmware I see all over the web? I've tried to delve into this legion of techheads, but it's all too esoteric for me without investing too much time for something I don't own.

    But I'm wondering if I should switch to the Linksys for this reason if it's worth it?
     
  7. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Well, this will keep out people who don't care at all, but can EASILY be broken. If you only use MAC filtering, all of the packets of information you send between your computer and router can be seen by others (using a free program called AirSnort among others). These packets contain headers which contain your MAC address. MAC addresses can be spoofed very easily at no cost, so they could simply convince their own computer to use your MAC addresses and they'd have full access to your network.
     
  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    ahh..good info seth.

    peter - i have the wrt54g router. what's this sveasoft thing you're talking about? i did upgrade the firmware via the linksys.com site, but that's about it.
     
  9. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    From what little I've gathered, sveasoft is a 3rd party super firmware for the Linksys wrt54g router - supposedly, it's a stable release that adds features and improves both speed and range dramatically.

    I've only gleaned casual info from threads on fatwallet & anandtech. Here's the thread at AnandTech .

    Just googled sveasoft and discovered they have their own
    website. While it appears that they charge for the firmware, an argument rages that this is open source based and should be free (which leads to easily obtained copies floating webwide).

    Again, I'm curious if anyone with a Linksys has upgraded to sveasoft and how much of a difference it makes. I've only heard incessantly how Linksys makes the best wireless routers...now I'm wondering if it's because of the ability to apply this 3rd party firmware upgrade.

    Care to try, Ted?
     
  10. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    in a nutshell, no way. my stuff works just fine, and after reading some of the articles/threads -- this is way more geekiness then even i can handle.

    my shizzle works just fine the way it is right now...not gonna mess with it anymore.

    but i thank you for the info! [​IMG]
     
  11. SamC

    SamC Agent

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    Just a quick one to fill you all in on the WRT54G (I know, a bit OT). I fit into the 'way more geekiness' category that Ted mentioned.

    I recently bought a WRT54G and think it's a great little router. Probably the best part about it is that Linksys chose to develop the firmware using GPL code, and thus have to release the source code. It's all in Linux, and the source is freely available from Linksys' website.

    So stacks of people went and downloaded this source code, modified it to suit themselves and released it to the world. There are a number of different distributions available, offering all sorts of features. The latest Sveasoft is one of these, and one of few that supports the latest hardware revision of the WRT54G (there's 3 hardware versions). Some distrubutions are more fully featured, others minimal OS (obvious benefits both ways).

    Search on Google for "WRT54G firmware" if you're interested. I'll be upgrading mine as soon as there's a free publicly-available firmware that suits me, as I want to run things like Snort (IDS) and have more control over my firewalling.

    To get back to the topic - Seth is right. MAC filtering is a bit like a bike lock or car alarm - it's really just a deterrent for 'honest thieves'. A combination of disabling the SSID broadcast, WPA (or WEP) and MAC filtering will work better. And make sure that the WPA/WEP key you choose is a secure one - like a secure password in any system!
     
  12. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    If someone really wants on your wifi there's nothing you can really do about it, every security measure can be gotten around. . . without a lot of work. What makes it worse is that wifi allows folks to work from a more comfortable location.

    Wpa is definitely better than wep, mac filtering is a good feature as that will keep all but the skillful away and the skillful are likely to use your neighbors which isn't as secure.Disabling ssid is a hit or miss, disabling it can cause some issues, but if you can get away with it do it.

    In the end though, if your setup is more secure than your neighbors' setups, you'll be fine. I just disable ssid broadcast on my home wifi and keep an eye on the connection logs. I have yet to have an unwanted snooper on my network.
     
  13. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Someone capable of cracking a wireless network using WPA (not WEP) and MAC filtering to boot is pretty darn good at what they are doing. I'm thinking NSA level of good, here. WPA doesn't have the built-in security flaws that WEP does.

    WEP and MAC filtering is already pretty discouraging, and actually I'd say that WEP encryption alone will probably cause whoever wants in to go look for a network that isn't secured at all. There are tons of those to be found, after all, since people aren't as a rule security conscious at all.
     
  14. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    how do you do that?
     
  15. Brian Schucher

    Brian Schucher Supporting Actor

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    I have whats probably a stupid question about wireless security. If you have an open network and your neighbor uses it... they go to lets say a very illegal type of site... What IP can be trakced back to? I assume it would be the Ip of your DSL/Cable modem and not the internal Ip addesses.. is this the case?
     
  16. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    Yes, the IP would only trace back to your modem, so they'd be looking at you. However, it is likely that your router keeps logs, so if it were confiscated for legal reasons, they could likely determine which actual computer visited the site. I hope you're asking this because someone is doing it to you, not you doing it to someone else.
     
  17. Brian Schucher

    Brian Schucher Supporting Actor

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    Im asking for neither reason. I was curious as i know SO MANY people leave their networks unsecure. Im also pretty sure that Linksys has logs "disabled" by default i think. I think the wireless router companies should do more to educate their buyers as to the possibilties..
     
  18. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    I agree. I'm sure that people who don't secure their networks probably don't clear the history or cache on their browsers either, so if there were some legal issues that came up, the police probably could determine that they didn't do anything due to the lack of evidence on their computer. But they may or may not be able to track down whoever used that person's wireless access.
     

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