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More wireless networking questions

Old 08-09-04, 07:40 PM
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More wireless networking questions

Ok, so I had a thread a couple weeks ago about setting up a wireless network. Somehow, I manged to get it working

Anyhow, I have a few questions now for the wireless network pros out there:

1. Security. Should I be protected (besides antivirus and firewall, I mean) and does the router have some sort of built in protection? If so, how do I work it?

2. Can I see files on the computer downstairs and they can see the files on the computer upstairs? If so, is it easy to do, or a bit difficult? The reason I ask is because sometimes my friends kids use the PC downstairs and I don't want them messing up any of my files. Especially the porn ones....kidding

3. Should the connection be faster or is 54mbps excellent connection good? The bars are green, but not all filled up. It's gone as low as good and 24mbps but not often.

I think that's it for now, go easy on me, I'm still a n00b at this.
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Old 08-10-04, 12:44 AM
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1. Yes. There are 2 primary methods of wireless security. Some routers may not have all these options, or they may have more, or they may have a slightly different name (for instance Broadcast SSID could be referred to as Open or Closed network).

a. SSID. This is a network name. To secure the network from unauthorized access:

i. Change it from the default "ANY' to something unique.

ii. Disable "Broadcast SSID".

iii. Disable 'Accept ANY SSID' so connecting computers must know the name of your network to connect.

b. WEP. To secure(ish) it from snooping:

i. Enable 128 or 64-big WEP, the higher the better.

ii. Use an non-trivial unique key, just like a password.

iii. Change it often if your paranoid.

iv. Use an up-to-date VPN software connection over your WLAN if your really paranoid.

WEP is known to be technically 'broken' but it's a practical way to secure your connection from casual snooping. It will slow your connection by 20-50% depending on your router hardware.

You may have other options that apply to your wired connections as well, such as restricting connections to specific MAC addresses.

2. Not by default but it's easy to do.

You can enable Windows file sharing, but it does open up some security risks. There are more secure ways of file sharing, but I haven't researched it. The security risk isn't from what the program allows itself, but it exposes the computer to hacking attempts from inside the network because of the services it enables.
The risk is only if someone accesses your WLAN, not from the internet (your router should protect you from that).

Google "Windows file sharing" to get some tutorials on how to set it up. You can pick the folders to share and also password protect or 'hide' the folders. Once it's setup they will appear in your 'network neighborhood' area of explorer. You can even 'map' a folder or computer to a drive on your system. So your E: drive could be the computer downstairs. That's usually not necessary, but some programs don't like to open things over the network so it's a way to fool it into thinking a file is local.

3. 54mbps is as fast as it gets. Of course signal strength/ interference and WEP can slow it down. That speed is more than fast enough for most broadband connections.
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Old 08-10-04, 08:38 AM
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I think if WEP is enabled then someone casually WAR driving will not be able to tap into your network. If don't live in a city where hundreds/thousands of potential freeloaders are within range you don't have much to worry about as long as you don't see a kid in a car outside, near your home with that telltale blue glow surrounding him.

If you only have one or two wireless devices changing your WEP password regularly will help. What I did for added file sharing security was to open a shared directory on one computer only and allow only specific machines (the others on my network ) to access the share. I also don't put anything sensitive in the share that is not PGP encrypted.

Last edited by garolo; 08-10-04 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 08-10-04, 08:45 AM
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You could enable WPA encryption, I did, an noticed no slowdown on my hardware.
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