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Re: I may be scrapping the wireless crap...

12/2/2004 5:29 AM
bob p Re: I may be scrapping the wireless crap...
Steve, I may be the lone voice crying in the wilderness, but I simply will not use WiFi. My views on wireless are biased somewhat by the fact that before WiFi came along, I wired my entire house with CAT-5 cable. so now I have at least one ethernet jack in every room.  
in the rooms where i may use a portable computer, i've put LAN ports in convenient locations. i keep a long (30 foot) cable stuffed behind the TV, so that if I ever need a hookup, i just plug the cable into the back of the laptop. the only downside to doing it this way is that occasionally somebody has to watch so that they don't trip over the cable. in the kitchen i have a cable that hangs out of the way on a clip on the back of the refridgerator.  
my brother has a WiFi setup in his house, and he's always complaining about poor signal quality. he makes the point that when you're on one floor of the house and the WAP is on a different floor and at the other end of the house, the effective thickness of the floor may be 10 feet or so instead of a few inches. then there are other considerations like microwave RFI, portable phones, and neighbors leeching onto your access point. you have to use MAC filtering to keep them out, and you have to encrypt your data to keep them from capturing it. and then there's the worst obstacle of all -- even under ideal conditions, WiFi is slower than a good LAN.
12/2/2004 11:25 AM
you're not the only one.. I won't use it at the office though there is pressure to put one in for all the travelling folks who bring in their laptops. Might have something to do with the fact that a good friend of my nephew is the guy who originally cracked WiFi security.. while he was still in HS btw. I guess you could say I'm not a beleiver in 'secure wireless networks'. . .  
I use it at my house bc I live out in the woods & unless the racoons get wireless laptops I am safe. ;) The convenience of being able to sit by the fire, or walk into the kitchen or out onto the deck to surf/work is wonderful. I have no signal strength issues, but that may be related to being so far from everything else incl cel towers (my cel does not work at my house most of the time). My WAP is in the basement and the wireless still works well up on the 2nd floor so I can surf in bed if I'm home sick.. most of the time I find I use it in the kitchen, looking up directions or weather or recipes (what's for dinner? how do I make x?) damn I love the web. :)
12/2/2004 8:36 PM
Steve A.

    I think you need to spend more than $500 for a nice notebook computer- this one was pretty heavy and the battery life was under 2 hours. :( The 15" LCD screen looks great and it would actually be a decent desktop substitute for my brother (who has asked about getting hooked up with a computer). It has both a phone jack and an ethernet port for connecting to the internet so he will be ready to rock!  
    Getting back to the wireless network as long as I had WEP encryption turned off it would connect okay most of the time. One time it prompted me for the password which I then entered but it still would not connect. :(  
Steve Ahola
12/2/2004 9:54 PM
yeah, IME a good solid laptop is more like $12-1400-ish with a primo lightweight one being around twice that. I usually tell folks they are 4x the cost of a desktop, if you consider the lifespan is considered to be 2 years (vs ~4 for a desktop) and they cost at least twice as much on avg for similar levels of equipment/performance. You have to really need one to have it make sense. The company bought mine since I am going on site and need to terminal into servers routers and switches etc. It's a nice perk.  
I'm surprised your wep key had much to do with connectivity.. I've had really good luck with Linksys in the past. Have you considered exchanging the WAP for another? That one sounds flakey.. sorry to hear it has not gone better for you. it's really nice when it's in and working properly. you can definitely get spoiled. If I lived closer I'd come over and smack it around!
12/5/2004 4:40 AM
Steve A.
I swapped the computer for a better one...
    I returned the $500 computer and took a look at the other ones that were available and ending up taking home a factory refurbished HP ZE-4805US.  
    The Wi-Fi is built in (rather than as a CardBus card) and I was able to connect to the wireless network right away (even with WEP encryption turned on). So I guess the Linksys adaptor might have been screwed up- or maybe it had something to do with the computer that it was plugged into.  
    BTW how should I set this one:  
"Authentication Type: Open System -or- Shared Key"  
Steve Ahola
12/3/2004 3:11 AM
bob p Re: I may be scrapping the wireless crap...
yeah, Speedy, there's no doubt in my mind that wireless would be GREAT if you have a laptop and you tend to wander out into the yard, go out on the deck, want to watch TV, etc.  
because i have neighbors, i'm not too enthusiastic about the WAP idea. on the bright side, i guess i could resell broadband access to my neighbors, but even with a good firewall, i don't like the idea of people being able to hack into my lan.  
i guess that if you wanted to have the best of both worlds (security for your lan and web access for your laptop), a good way to do it would be to put the web surfing laptop on its own subnet, or behind its own router/firewall in a DMZ. lets assume that your neighborhood racoons had laptops -- how would you do configure such a setup from a security standpoint?
12/3/2004 12:03 PM
SpeedRacer Re: wireless insecurity workarounds..
a friend who is a security guy full time had a nice solution for at least half of this issue.  
In an office env where folks want wireless access, you make a DMZ off of the firewall. The firewall rule for the subnet allows only VPN connections.. the policy you push to the VPN clients is a "route all traffic" style policy, so the only place your laptop can send traffic is to the firewall/vpn gateway.. so in a nutshell, you can get on the wireless segmetn and it does not matter bc you're going nowhere without the proper vpn client software and credentials. ;) That can include 2 or 3 factor authentication so hackers are most likely SOL in this case. The way we like it.  
For the home, there are probably a bunch of things you can do on the cheap.. You can simulate his VPN setup somewhat using linux and openVPN for win32.. make a linux gateway (cable modem-->linux router-->WAP-->hosts) hosts only get to the web by VPN connection to linux box via the WAP. You use firewall software on hosts to protect them from each other (free version of zone alarm?) and the laptop bearing racoons. ;) I think this would work. Also set your DHCP server in the WAP to only give out enough addresses for your PC's (better yet go static IP - no dhcp if possible and change the numbering to some non default schema.. 172.16.x.x or do mac filtering, pre-shared secrets, and anything else you can find. Just pile it on.  
What I do at home presently is a modification of what my buddy came up with. I have a VPN client and I contact our VPN endpoint at the office. My laptop VPN client has a 'route all' policy enforced on it. I surf the web from behind our office firewalls wven when I am out on the deck getting eaten by rabid mosquitos. I VPN from my house to the office and then from the office to the net. (via a double nat on the firewall) No other machine on my wireless network can see or reach my laptop - and my laptop cannot even accurately detect that IP is working until I bring up the VPN. The real key security wise for me is that while I have the VPN connection, I am restricted by our firewall rulebase and cannot be attacked and be used as an encrypted conduit into our LAN. I don't have anything out of the ordinary to stop folks from hopping on my BW.. c'mon over. ;)  
Open VPN:

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