By Terry Currier
Wireless networking, or Wi-Fi is expanding. Notebooks are coming with wireless connections build-in. Families are buying more than one computer and using wireless routers for networking. According to one survey 52% of households with computers are using wireless to link them. Mostly because it is easier than trying to run Ethernet wire through the walls and ceiling. For me it is fear of my wife catching me drill holes in the wall. Yet surveys have shown over half of the people do not bother setting up any security setting for it. For most it is because it is just to cumbersome. For others they feel there is no need. “There is nothing on it worth stealing.” Finally there are those who do not even know it is available. A friend of mine just brought her son a notebook computer and they setup a wireless network so both could use get Internet connection. When I asked her if it was secure she said “I guess so, why?”
I once saw a demo by Linksys at the Pasadena Computer User Group of how to setup a wireless network. There were so many steps shown I’m sure even after being shown how to do it, people were not going to bother. I think I dozed off myself.
Wi-Fi defense from OTO Software just could not be easier. I put the CD in, ran the install, set it up, and then thought “I wonder if I should look at the instructions.” Actually there is no instructions other than - put in the CD and start the installation. It is just so simple to use, if you have any experience with computers you can probably figure it out. The 802.11b wireless networking signal will typically go out about 100 feet or more with no interference. You know those pesky walls just keep getting in the way and shortening the distance it can go. Well the manufacturers have an answer for that in the new devices that are out. The signal on new 802.11g is suppose to be up to 300 feet. The new 802.11n in prerelease by Belkin and others have a range of up to 400 feet.
I am using the new D-Link DWL-2100AP – Access Point, with the D-Link DWL-G650 Cardbus Adapter. These are the new 802.11g AirPlusXtreemeG.™ Where my Belkin 80.211b access point could get me to the other side of the house, this one pumps up the signal. I took my notebook in my car and even parked across the street I could get a signal.
You may have heard of “war diving.” It is people driving around with laptops and antenna devices looking for unsecured networks. In one test of driving around in Las Vegas they found over 100 open networks in just a few minutes. Some carry GPS units and mark them for upload to websites. Now, pair that up with software such as Network Stumbler. It scans for networks roughly every second and logs all the networks it runs into--including the real SSIDs, the AP's MAC address, the best signal-to-noise ratio encountered, and the time you crossed into the network's space. Most war drives do it for kicks but some have more harmful intentions. It is more than just sharing the bandwidth it will slow your performance.
What people may not understand is that if someone else starts using your network to browse wherever they want on the Internet, it's going to come back to your IP address. In one instance, a Los Angeles man pleaded guilty to distributing pornography spam e-mails. He sent them out using other people's Wi-Fi connections, which he accessed from inside his car. In 2003, a man in Toronto was arrested for downloading child pornography using other people's unsecured wireless networks.
Once Wi-Fi defense is installed it scans your network and presents to you a list of devices (computers) and ask you if they are Friend, Foe, or Unknown. It gives you their IP address, MAC address, Net Name, and manufacturer. From that information you can figure out if they are Friend or Foe to allow them on the network. If Unknown you certainly don’t want them. If someone need tries to piggy-back onto your signal a pop-up window will alert you and ask you if they are Friend, Foe, or Unknown. It worked on both my 802.11g and b cards. If you find in the future you want to change the classification of visitor (you were mistaken, or they just ticked you off) you can edit the visitor or delete them from the list.
Clicking on Wireless Security gives you options for Notification, that will have it tell you when someone new is scanned on the network. The Security tab lets you enable router security. Wi-Fi Defense is truly just a scanning programwhich will tell you when someone is accessing your network, until you enable the router security. I change my setting for my main computer from friend to foe. It only change the color setting but, did not kick it off. If you are using a wireless access point in conjunction with a router (two separate pieces of equipment), make sure you put the address of your access point into the Access Point Address field on the Network tab. Once security is enabled if you need to add new visitors (friends) then you can click on Add Friend To Network wizard.
You can run reports on visitors to see when they came on and how long they were there. Network report shows the MAC address, when they were first there and the amount of time on the network. Visitors will be listed in one of two groups, either Connected or Not Connected. The Vulnerability Report shows a chart of how many hours each day a foe was detected on your network in the time period you select.
At $29.95 it is a good deal, this will help people make their networks more secure. You can download a 14 day trial version.
Winners is a member of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG) is an international, platform-independent, nonprofit corporation (incorporated in Washington, DC) devoted to helping user groups throughout the world. Almost 400 user groups are members of APCUG. http://www.apcug.net/