Sunday, June 4, 2006

WEP is in the house

Having purchased a new Palm TX last week, I wrote that "wireless worked without a hitch." As I noted at the time, though, that's not the whole truth. The true part is this: with no setting up required beyond selecting the appropriate SSID, and entering the password, the Palm TX was on the WLAN, and I was surfing with Blazer, and checking email with VersaMail. The bit where I kind of lied, because I was in denial, was this: my household WLAN (based on my Billion 7402 VGP ADSL router), which has given me no end of trouble, became even less stable. On the first afternoon with the Palm TX and the PowerBook G4 both using the WLAN, I had to power-cycle the router two or three times. This was unprecedented instability, and it made me sad.

A day later, I had an idea. I changed the WLAN from WPA2 to 128-bit WEP. Now, technically this makes my WLAN less secure, as there are known attacks against WEP. I think the risk is acceptable, though. The traffic on my WLAN is generally not particularly sensitive, since I use SSH for most inter-machine communication anyway. I guess my web-browsing habits are at risk of leaking. And if you happen to be war driving down my street and just want to steal some bandwidth, go nuts. (In fact, if you sweep some leaves off my footpath while you're out there, I'll give you the 128-bit key.)

Anyway, the WLAN has been up for seven days. It's certainly stayed up for seven days before, but I'm reasonably confident now, given how many times it went down when the Palm TX joined the network. It looks like I can finally blame the Billion, too. So, flimsy risk analyses and jokes aside, does anyone think I'm crazy for using WEP on the WLAN?

11 comments:

  1. If someone wants to sit outside your place for the few hours that it takes to sniff enough data to crack your WEP key, then they have probably earnt the free bandwidth!

    Since most of your traffic is secured anyway, then it's only your impressive pr0n collection that's at risk.

    btw just in case you haven't seen it, lots of people are having trouble with the wifi on the Billion 7402VGP. Billion are working on fixing it - beta firmware updates (that are probably of dubious value) are at http://www.billion.com.au/forums/index.php?showtopic=6810)

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  2. Reposting the Billion forums link above here

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  3. Thanks for the link, Marc. I didn't even know those forums existed. I guess it's encouraging that Billion are onto the issue, though for the price of the VGP (over $A 300, when I bought it) I would expect more. At least its VoIP is solid.

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  4. I've had heaps and heaps of trouble with wireless networking at home. I've given up on the bridge between my workstation and adsl replaced it with a long piece of UTP.

    I've had all my trouble with linksys hardware (a hardware firewall at my parents' place a while back, and this wireless unit since I bought it). It's probably fine if you know cisco magic - I think you can go in to the underlying layer and set everything up there. I've no idea how to do any of that magic though and no enthusiasm for it.

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  5. I think that problematic wireless home networks are the norm unfortunately.

    I've got a stable set up now with Billion 7402G and Linksys WMP54Gv4, but a Netgear WG311v2 caused me no end of pain, until I just gave up and replaced it.

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  6. Netcomm have a product for running ethernet over home power sockets at 85mbps or 200mbps (new version). I've read good things about them, but they're not cheap. Also occasionally various power sockets in the house aren't networkable together.

    I think I might get them for my workstation in the future.

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  7. "I've got a stable set up now with Billion 7402G and Linksys WMP54Gv4, but a Netgear WG311v2 caused me no end of pain, until I just gave up and replaced it."

    The other problem is that it doesn't seem possible to generalise over entire brands, you have to research very specific products, sometimes even firmware versions. For example, we've pretty much established my Billion 7402VGP can't do WPA, the two Linksys WAG54Gs I went through were basically junk, and the Netgear DG834GT I was using last year never skipped a beat. This is pretty much the inverse brand experience to what Marc describes above.

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  8. "Netcomm have a product for running ethernet over home power sockets"

    That looks very cool.

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  9. Paul, if you'd like to grab my netgear and see if you can beat it into shape for your situation let me know. It requires Windows to set it up (yet another thing wrong with it).

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  10. gah - not netgear - linksys. It's a wap45g I think.

    - C

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  11. Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
    Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

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