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Questions on wireless security

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posted on Sep, 17 2008 @ 08:10 PM
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I'm thinking of getting a wireless system to relace or supplement my current system. I will admit I am a novice in the wireless PC area. I am concerned about security. Should I be?

I live in a fairly densely populated area, and I have heard about "thieves" who piggyback on unsecured networks. While occasional sharing my bandwidth doesn't bother me, I'm concerned about the malicious user.

Let me ask a few basic questions:

If someone were to piggyback on my unsecured network, does that give them "visibility" into my system? I'm thinking of networking my two systems together, if that makes a difference.

If someone were to piggyback on my unsecured network, and then use the connection to hack or commit mischief, would traceback identify *me* as the hacker?

Is a wireless system by it's nature more vulnerable than a hardwired system?

How *do* you secure a wireless network?

Let me state up front that I am not seeking any information to commit any illegal deed. I just want to protect myself and my system.

I would appreciate any info or sources that the board can share. I'm looking forward to be able to surf in bed while watching the ballgame!

Thanks-




posted on Sep, 17 2008 @ 08:35 PM
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If a person gains access to your network, they can probe locally for other nodes. This can include printers, vulnerable shares, or anything else they can find and exploit.

If someone gains unauthorized access to your network and then does any of those activities, it will trace back to your network. Local ip addresses used by the router won't be visible from the outside (usually). Whether or not you are held accountable depends on laws in your area.

Wireless networks are more vulnerable in some sense because you don't have control over the transmission medium as you would with a wired connection. The setup depends on how secure using a wireless set up will be.

Some quick general tips:

Use WPA or WPA2 with a strong randomly generated key. I personally use one that is about 62 characters long with letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid using WEP, because it is really trivial to crack using techniques to generate abnormal amounts of IVs.

Even though mac addresses can be changed/spoofed, use mac filtering anyway.

Disable SSID broadcasting.

Don't allow remote administration.

Set up the router's firewall (and IDS if it comes with one).

Any shares or services you set up for your local network secure them accordingly.

Also if you're well within the range your router is capable of, reducing transmitter power can help. Also, to keep performance at a more acceptable level, it helps to change to a less crowded channel.

There are a lot of guides out there, but I typically just do the steps above. It'll make you less of a target than your most likely unsecured or less secured neighbors.

[edit on 17-9-2008 by Kluge]



posted on Sep, 17 2008 @ 08:50 PM
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Wow - that's a lot! I'll be up all night just deciphering what WPA, WPA2, SSID, etc. mean! But thanks for the info.



posted on Sep, 17 2008 @ 09:15 PM
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You're welcome. And most of the stuff you'll see as you're setting up the router, but it doesn't hurt to dig up background information.



posted on Sep, 17 2008 @ 09:20 PM
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Personally I just use WEP and MAC filtering. Let's be realistic. If you're not within 50 yards of my house you're not close enough to get a good signal. I know the WEP security isn't the best, but I change it occasionally so it would be annoying to have to keep cracking the code. A 128 bit WEP is no trivial thing to crack even using brute force.

I look at my wireless dashboard occasionally and I can see a log of any pc that connects. It's just me.



posted on Sep, 18 2008 @ 02:44 AM
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Originally posted by dbates
Personally I just use WEP and MAC filtering. Let's be realistic. If you're not within 50 yards of my house you're not close enough to get a good signal. I know the WEP security isn't the best, but I change it occasionally so it would be annoying to have to keep cracking the code. A 128 bit WEP is no trivial thing to crack even using brute force.

I look at my wireless dashboard occasionally and I can see a log of any pc that connects. It's just me.


WEP at 128-bits is still not much security. You'll just need more initialization vectors which can be easily generated with active attack techniques (aircrack-ng etc). Its not just the key length that is a factor. IVs in WEP also have collision problems that don't help the situation at all. It makes more sense to just use WPA-PSK at the least with a strong key. If you can't do that, use the strongest WEP setting you can.



posted on Sep, 18 2008 @ 05:47 AM
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Originally posted by dbates
Personally I just use WEP and MAC filtering......
''

Yea I was just about to suggest this. WEP for basic security, if someone doesnt know what they are doing they probably arnt going to be able to get past all of this, and then MAC address filtering which is pretty secure. I dont know about being in a densely populated area but where I am I dont need anything more then mac address filtering. And it makes it fun to know your neighbors can see you network as unsecured but they can never connect to it lol
.
Just to clarify, MAC address filtering is a must for densely populated areas so I'd reccommend that and then have a WEP password for good measure.



posted on Sep, 20 2008 @ 05:23 AM
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Originally posted by dbates
Personally I just use WEP and MAC filtering. Let's be realistic. If you're not within 50 yards of my house you're not close enough to get a good signal. I know the WEP security isn't the best, but I change it occasionally so it would be annoying to have to keep cracking the code. A 128 bit WEP is no trivial thing to crack even using brute force.

I look at my wireless dashboard occasionally and I can see a log of any pc that connects. It's just me.


To be fair, 50 yards might be OK for someone with a standard antenna, but if I was to point my wifi cantenna at you, you can make that 200 yards, even more, for example.

a 128 bit WEP key is easy enough to crack, maybe it'll take 15 or 20 minutes, assuming a high enough injection rate compared to 5 for a 64-bit wep. Still, not really a problem.

Thing is, anyone determined enough and knowledgeable to crack your router using these kind of tools may not just interested in connecting via your router, they may be interested in what you're upto on line.

And, that can be easily accomplished without any signs of them being logged into your router whatsoever. Passive mode on the attackers wifi card, data packets being decrypted on the fly as it does (airtun-ng for example) and, in its most basic form, Wireshark (for example) to analyse and capture that data.

I tell people again and again. Refuse WEP.



posted on Sep, 20 2008 @ 10:31 AM
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Some very good & educated replies in this thread. One other trick to use. Lower the transmit & receive power rates of both your access point and wireless network card to a usable limit. That way your not overly transmitting your presence. This is not a sure thing by any means but can help.

brill



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