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Wireless Hacks by Rob Flickenger

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Dispel the Myth of Wireless Security

Find out for yourself just how “secure” your standard wireless network really is.

Despite a few good online articles and countless alarmist news items decrying parasitic War Drivers and War Chalkers contributing to the moral decay of the country, a surprising number of people still install wireless equipment with all of the defaults enabled. There are a huge number of access points in use today that unintentionally advertise a default SSID, bridge directly to an Ethernet network, and use no encryption whatsoever (or a WEP key left on the factory setting, and therefore easily deduced).

But even if all standard precautions are in place, how much “security” do wireless access points actually provide? Having heard all sorts of widely varying estimates and assumptions from people who should be able to make an educated guess, I finally decided to see for myself what it would take to circumvent the security of my own standard 802.11b network.

The Test Environment

Since my “production” wireless network is actually an open node on Seattle Wireless, I decided to put together a temporary lab network consisting of the following:

  • A “Graphite” AirPort

  • An iMac with an AirPort card running OS X

  • An iBook with an AirPort card running the Debian Linux distribution

In order to make the test as difficult as possible, I decided to create a “closed” network (that doesn’t broadcast the SSID), enable WEP, and implement a MAC address filter. The AirPort was set to the SSID ...

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