wireless network - open access?

Discussion in 'other security issues & news' started by beethoven, Oct 18, 2008.

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  1. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    I have a laptop that I only use once a year or so, usually all my work is done via a desktop with cable.

    Since I need the laptop for travel, I just took it out and go through the process of updating all the security patches etc.
    I noticed an alert coming up re wireless networks being detected. One network is shown as "security enabled wireless network WPA" and the second comes up as "unsecured computer to computer network".
    I assume it's one of the neighbours being a bit careless. Since I am not familar with wireless networking, is there any way someone can access my laptop via wireless since my laptop detects these networks? Or am I safe as long as I don't connect to it?
     
  2. farmerlee

    farmerlee Registered Member

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    If you are broadcasting your home network then your neighbours will be able to see it but unless they can somehow hack into it your laptop is safe. You can always turn broadcasting off so no one sees your network.
    Even if you decided to connect to that unsecured network a properly configured firewall would help keep you out of trouble.
     
  3. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    farmerlee - thanks for your reply and I apologise for my follow-up query. You will see I have no idea about wireless use and laptops at all.

    Based on your response I googled "how to turn off broadcasting" and it seems that most threads are rather ambivalent about the additional protection you get. It might stop the kid next door from knowing that there is a network but does not provide real security.

    Since I have never used my laptop's wireless function when travelling and only connected via cable once I reached my destination, do I still need to do something to tighten access? Some of the threads keep mentioning WPA is required but they all assume you want to use wireless to connect to the internet. If I don't use wireless to connect, do I still need to learn about WPA and adjust my laptop settings? Btw, on this laptop I have only the inbuilt XP firewall. As I will not be the only one using the laptop and knowing the dirty looks I am going to get if I install a firewall like OA or Outpost (even with only a few pop-ups) , I was trying to keep things simple.
     
  4. MrBrian

    MrBrian Registered Member

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    In XP, you can go to Network Connections, find the wireless connection, and disable it.
     
  5. farmerlee

    farmerlee Registered Member

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    Yeh turning off broadcasting is only a simple protective measure but it does make hacking your network that little bit harder.
    Most laptops have a button/switch to disable wi-fi so if you don't need to use it just disable it and you'll be fine.
    The xp firewall is fine for most needs, if you do need to use wi-fi you can tighten security a bit by not allowing firewall exceptions and disabling file and printer sharing for your wi-fi connection.
     
  6. beethoven

    beethoven Registered Member

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    thanks guys, disabled wifi for now.
    Might want to read up on how to set up a laptop properly when using wifi at a later stage :)
     
  7. farmerlee

    farmerlee Registered Member

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    The only slight difficulty is setting up encryption then configuring your devices to work with the encrypted network. Its fairly simple, if i can do it anyone should be able to do it.
     
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