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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 06:01 AM   #1
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I was setting up an Apple laptop for a family member with Panther last night and noticed it had an Airport Card. Since I don't have a Base Station at my place and the Airport showed a signal, I was curious to see if I could connect to the internet. It connected by finding some other network in the area that was on and open without any password protection.

Now my question is, if you only have a wireless card and no base station, how secure are you surfing the internet on someone else's connection wirelessly? How does it all work? What settings do people use when you're connected to another wireless network like that? I imagine the other person knows who you are on their end? What do they see for info on you on their end?

This all got me thinking and now I have more questions then answers . This is all new to me, and although I don't have the laptop anymore in my hands, I would love to know how this all works.

Thanks!
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 06:35 AM   #2
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There's a few scenarios at play with wireless home networks. Some don't know that their network is open, and don't even think to check the logs to see if someone else is sharing their connection. Some realize that a neighbor is using their connection, but they're okay with it. Others, use either address filtering, or WEP encryption (or both), to try and keep their wireless network secure from outside hitchhikers.

I used to leave mine open, but one day I was sitting watching TV and became distracted (hypnotized actually) by the activity lights on my router and cable modem. I began to wonder about who was using my connection, and what they were doing with it (accessing porn, or downloading illegal files?). Who would know!?!
Later that night I enabled address filtering on my router, so that only the 2 computers in my house could use my connection. Call me a curmudgeon, but I'd like to know who is using my connection, and for what. If a neighbor asked to have access, I'd likely be okay with it. It's not knowing that gets me.

Sorry for going on, and on, but hopefully that explains a little bit about the variables of having a wireless home network.

[ September 11, 2004, 09:14 PM: Message edited by: misspentyouth ]
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 06:52 AM   #3
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I believe that WEP has been cracked. That is if your router or access point uses WEP then a persistent "freeloader" can get access to your network. If you want to have a secure wireless network you should use WPA.

I read a recent posting on a Toronto wireless site where the author drove through various sections of the city. Approx. half of all the networks they came across were open networks. Only small percentage were using WPA.

I have two routers, only one is wireless. I use the wireless as an access point with WPA. WPA has so far proven to be robust security method. Even so I only power on my wireless router when I am using my laptop.

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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 08:24 AM   #4
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I think Urban Legend wants to know if someone could access his laptop via his airport card. Answer is yes, if you have sharing any sort of sharing turned on.
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 10:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
If you want to have a secure wireless network you should use WPA.
OK. I just recently switched to Macs so this may be a case of PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair), but I tried to use WPA and couldn't get it to work.

I've got both an iBook and a Powerbook with Airport Extreme installed. I'm trying to connect to a D-Link DI-624 wireless router/hub.

On the wireless router, I've got the "Broadcast SSID" turned off. If I configure the router to use WPA, I can't get either laptop to connect to the wireless network. But if I switch back to WEP, they both connect like a pro.

I know the problem is probably user error but any tips would be appreciated.
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 02:21 PM   #6
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I believe that WEP has been cracked.

WEP wasn't cracked, it's flawed. There is a difference. The flaw? Anyone with a packetsniffer and enough time can eventually scrape your password out of said packets. WPA was created to address this problem.

Realistically speaking, though, if you ahve WEP enabled on your network it is probably good enough because why would anyone spend the time to crack your network when they could walk/drive 100 feet and access someone else's unencrypted network?
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 07:57 PM   #7
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Now, re: UL's Q?, would not a snooper need to the laptop's sys admin password to be able to get in his lap?? otherwise, would he not be forced to log on as a guest?? Is that not the Q???

I used to surf on my neighbor's acct (when mine was messing up), and this one time, I got in her network - but just the asante router). I had no capabilities of logging into her system (This was documented here once - few months back).

So, UL - I believe you should be safe. They might try, but I don't gather they can get too far... But this is only with regards to your query.

Am I wrong??

H!
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 09:00 PM   #8
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Hi Ohenri,

Yes, my question was basically if you can connect to a neighbours network via Airport, can they have access to your Mac if you have everything in file sharing off? I guess I was curious as to how others just connect to a network that is open and not worry about being hacked by the actual person who owns the network.

Pretty soon, we will be getting the Airport Express with Airtunes and that will bring on another challenge of setting up the security the correct way
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 11:15 PM   #9
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When you do set up your network. One way that we use and many others is to restrict the access to the network by listing the MAC addresses (nothing to do with Apple Inc.) for each computer as well as turning on the other security features. We had to open up our network to get a Windowsbeast to logon to the network, but when we used the restriction, it seemed to be almost as secure as when we had the network closed.
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 05:47 AM   #10
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Urban_Legend, that was the point I was trying to make, and one that mclenaghan just touched on. Implementing MAC address filtering will give you the peace of mind you're looking for. Your machine(s) have a unique address, and no other machine will be allowed to use your network because their addresses don't meet the criteria you've set for your router. It's a snap to set up too.

Sure, every attempt at security can be defeated or hacked, but MAC address filtering is all you really need IMHO.

BUT! If you happen to have the text version of the meaning of life, or a great clam chowder recipe, or, an amazing chili recipe on your computer, perhaps extra steps should be taken to secure your machine.

[ September 11, 2004, 10:05 PM: Message edited by: misspentyouth ]
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