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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 11th May, 2005, 03:56 AM
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Wierd Wireless Problem

Tonight I ran into something quite strange. My friend asked me to help him set up a wireless network in his house. I obliged because setting up a network is part of my twisted idea of fun. We went to Best Buy and he picked up a Linksys BEFW11S4 and a wireless card for his downstairs desktop. Setting up the router was pretty straightforward when directly connected to the computer next to the router; I set up WEP and a couple other security-related things. However, when I tried to set up his huge Dell Inspiron 9100 to wirelessly connect to the internet, nothing seemed to work. The laptop could not find any available networks.

After going through some settings, my friend tells me that wireless networking hasn't worked since another person he knows wiped the drive this January because of a virus. So, I downloaded updated drivers and installed stuff from the install CD (which is a pain to navigate I might add.) Still no dice. Well, in a fit of desperation I started fiddling with settings on the router. I changed the channel that the wireless network was broadcasting over from the default 6 to 11. The laptop immediately sprung to life and connected to the network. That was wierd, I thought to myself. However, I was still the hero of the day for magically fixing everything. The real question I have: is his wireless network card screwed up or is there something about channel 6 that's a bit screwey?

EDIT: I think I may have found the answer! I remembered that channel 6 was broadcasting at 2.4 Ghz, while channel 11 was slightly higher. I suspect that a telephone sitting around may have been causing interference which was preventing a connection from being made. Is this possible?
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Old 11th May, 2005, 05:13 AM
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It's quite possible that another device was transmitting on the same frequency, but tracking that kinda stuff down is rather harder. Yes, it's possible that really was the solution.
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Old 11th May, 2005, 11:00 AM
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That said, if anyone asks, say it was your mad skills and problem solving ability. If you never take credit, how can you ever have credit? lol
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Old 11th May, 2005, 11:05 AM
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There's a guide here:
http://www.wi-fiplanet.com/tutorials...le.php/2191241
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Old 11th May, 2005, 12:58 PM
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Channels 1, 6 and 11 are "non-overlapping". All other channels up to 13 will bleed into adjacent channel numbers. This is why these are recommended to be tried first. Channel 6 is the default for most hardware, and since most people (in the UK) seem to be truly hopeless* at setting up their wi-fi, this'll be what most APs still use.

Anecdotally, I've also found that channel 1 works best in brick and concrete buildings and channel 11 in steel-framed structures. I've no idea why. I've also found that for some cards/drivers, enabling Windows' own manager for the card and allowing it to connect with Windows in charge somehow causes the card vendor's own software to become more reliable when it's put back in charge. Again, I have no idea why. Final discovery is that a large hammer and some beer is the best cure for Belkin hardware.

* This is from visiting numerous friends who have (after prodding) set up either WEP or WPA, hidden SSID and MAC authentication, and who take great delight in running a simultaneous connection to one or more neighbours' connections, which are running with no restrictions whatsoever. These new MIMO cards are great for it - I want one
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Old 11th May, 2005, 05:27 PM
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Have you guys ever taken your laptop around your neighborhood and looked for wireless networks? My parents live in a 'well to do' neighborhood and at least a quarter of the houses here have wireless networks running out of them. However, of those quarter, very few are secured in any way.

I was having a discussion with my father the other day about securing a wireless network. The conclusion that we came to was that one doesn't need to make a network impossible to break into, they simply need to make it harder to break into than the neighbors' network and thus a less appealing target. Actually, the network we have here at home is very secure from outsiders. It's placed in the basement because the basement is the most convienent place for it to be. However, putting it in the basement has the side effect of restricting the signal to within the house. Even from the driveway I can't get a signal, so anybody driving by on the street isn't going to even notice that there's a network set up in the house.

Actually, this has made me curious. I'm going to try a bit of net stumbling again today. It's been nine months since I've last done it; things have quite possibly changed since then.
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Old 11th May, 2005, 07:01 PM
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Here are the results of my tests:

I found 31 networks. Two of those I've set up (mine here and my friend's), so we'll exclude those from the results. That leaves 29 networks

Of those 29 networks, 13 were secured in some way. That's way more than I expected. Also, the best signal that I got from the street is 27 out of 50, which seems very strong.
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Old 11th May, 2005, 07:02 PM
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LOL! Can you access their drives or just the router, or what?
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Old 11th May, 2005, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fantomfreq
Here are the results of my tests:

I found 31 networks. Two of those I've set up (mine here and my friend's), so we'll exclude those from the results. That leaves 29 networks

Of those 29 networks, 13 were secured in some way. That's way more than I expected. Also, the best signal that I got from the street is 27 out of 50, which seems very strong.
Can you run Kismet on a mac?
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Old 11th May, 2005, 11:02 PM
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Yes, you can run Kismet on a Mac. It's called Kismac.

One thing I have noted in some companies is that the AP runs unencrypted. However, all the clients talk IPSEC to an IPSEC gateway, so sitting on the wireless network isn't really helpful.
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Old 12th May, 2005, 12:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danrok
LOL! Can you access their drives or just the router, or what?
Well, it all depends on their personal settings. I didn't actually log onto any of the networks I found. I imagine that at least one person has their drive accidentally shared. For everybody else it's probably just the default 'shared' folder. However, I believe that the shared folder gives people who log onto it read AND write privelidges. Even though you can't access the entire drive, you sure could fill the entire thing up with junk or worse.

I didn't use kismet. The program I used was called iStumbler, which seems to give you much of the same information but it's a little more versatile. iStumbler finds these networks, but it also will do the same thing with bluetooth and Bonjour (zero-config networking). I haven't tried the bluetooth feature out yet as I don't have any BT devices, but the Bonjour feature is great. I've used the bonjour feature to identify which computers are sharing their iTunes folder and also to find out which mac computers are connected to the network. Attached is a screenshot.
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Old 12th May, 2005, 02:33 AM
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Kismet is pretty good in that it'll still capture SSIDs from WiFi networks that don't broadcast SSIDs. It'll also happily capture WEP encrypted packets that have weak IVs too.

I've yet to find another program that does the WiFi job even half as well as Kismet does!
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