Wireless Networks... How Big a Security Risk?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by gnome, Jul 16, 2007.

  1. I've read they broadcast perhpas 150 ft. radius... extending far outside the home.

    With bank, brokerage, and credit card numbers + passwords... how secure are WLANs?

    Are modern encryption methods effective?

    Also, is wireless "touchy", or should I go for wired?

  2. Just use WPA2 with a random pre-shared key in TKIP+AES mode, and you will be fine.

    Don't trust the wireless networks at airports or coffee shops etc.
  3. It depends on your equipment. I don't have the latest and greatest thing, but here's what I have:

    10mbps cable conection
    cheap ass webstar cable modem supplied by isp
    Linksys WRT54G wireless router
    2 Hawking HAO14SDP outdoor antennas

    In my humble opinion it would be a stretch to connect onto someone's network, let alone collect their passwords, account numbers, etc., @ 150 feet. I transmit the connection between the two exterior antennas over a distance of 500 yards. Without the antennas I couldn't keep the connection up for very long and it was very intermittant even at 150 feet.

    I would recommend the Linksys WRT54GL over mine (I have one on order) in that you can further tweak the router for more security. As far as that goes you will find that your router provides you with better protection from the dubious "internet" than all the anti-virus software combined.

    The only computer I have using the wireless connection is one desktop. My other computers are hardwired for lack of problems more than anything. Wireless connections can be touchy. Even if you don't use the wireless capability a router offers great protection.

    Google WRT54GL for information on the firmware. WRT54GL
  4. With the right software and a little determination every wireless connection can be hacked. Period. Granted, the more protection you provide with firewalls (hardware & software), 16+ digit alpha-numeric password, blocking id broadcast and such makes you a less likely target but the fact remains, ALL wireless is not all that secure.
  5. Improve security with paint and window films that block the signal.
  6. After hearing about the E Trade Russian Hacker scam I wondered if that's how it was done. I mean, damn, E Trade has kfob too! Maybe they didn't have one when this occured?

    I can see they avg. E Trade customer trading from a wireless connection in some hotel while some Russian nerd hacker is wardriving and hacking. Sad really. :(
  7. Tin foil hat would also help.
  8. I agree 100%.

    The OP made it sound as though he was trading from a home network and not a motel or public network. Two different animals depending on where "home" is. My comments were for my particular situation. I understand there are many scenarios and that each person should decide what's best for their own situation. In many cases it is advisable to NOT have a wireless network. Period.

    I live in a very rural section of Idaho. If someone is trying to hack into my network I can see them, shoot them, and shovel what's left of them into a 15' deep hole with my backhoe somewhere on the other side of the pond on my 300 acres. Now, that's not an option if you live in Boston.
  9. Yes, I'm concerned about a network in my house. What about a hybrid? Using an Ethernet router with a wireless POA? That way the most important concerens can be transmitted over a wired connection... ?? (Or, would the wireless portion possibly compromise the entire network?)
  10. sim03


    Have to disagree. I am no expert, but researched this when I set up my simple little WPA2 network.

    Even the weaker WPA-PSK (pre-shared key) mode is vulnerable only to a brute force attack. (We are talking about remote hacking only... let's ignore a Watergate-style break-in, a laptop theft or loss, etc... under those scenarios, wired wouldn't be any safer than wireless.) With existing technology, hacking a mere 16-character passphrase (out of possible 63) would take many orders of magnitude longer than 15 billion years, an estimated age of the Universe. I can probably live with that...

    Are you saying that there are methods of hacking WPA other than brute force? I have never come across that. A link would be helpful.
    #10     Jul 17, 2007