~e; wild-wild-Wireless

From bc <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Fri, 4 Jan 2002 09:36:52 -0600

  [more on wardriving and the vulnerability of wireless networks and
  connections (cellphones included) in the EM dataspace. tapped & located...]

This message was forwarded to you from ZDNet (http://www.zdnet.com)

      Why the wireless world's not ready for you
      By Lee Schlesinger, AnchorDesk
      January 2, 2002 9:00 PM PT

      New York and Boston are close enough that there's little
      difference in time between an airplane flight and a train ride
      door-to-door to downtown Manhattan. I prefer Amtrak--it's less
      disruptive, with no excruciating cab ride from LaGuardia and less
      walking overall.

      While I spent the first hour-and-a-half of my latest train ride
      back to Boston writing a story about the trade show I had just
      attended, I let my computer do most of the heavy lifting for this
      column. I popped an Orinoco Silver wireless network adapter into
      my Sony PictureBook notebook and launched a clever application
      called Network Stumbler.

      RUNNING IN A BACKGROUND WINDOW, Network Stumbler scans the
      airwaves for 802.11b wireless activity. If there's an access point
      or peer adapter within range, it lists it, along with some vital
      information, such as its Service Set Identifier (SSID)--an
      identifier that designates a logical network--and whether it uses
      encryption. If you have a global positioning system device
      attached to the PC, Network Stumbler even lists discovered
      devices' longitude and latitude, which you can then pinpoint on a
      map using mapping software.

      Network Stumbler's results were revealing. I found 79 wireless
      devices: 76 were access points, and 3 were clients. Of these, only
      19 access points had WEP security enabled. That means that, should
      I have had the time and interest, I could easily have piggybacked
      onto the others' network connections to get Internet access--in
      effect, stealing bandwidth. If their internal networks were poorly
      secured, I could have read and possibly even uploaded files onto
      their internal clients and servers.

      Want to know which access points aren't secured? The only ones I
      can identify are MIT and the MIT Media Lab (and someone who chose
      Apt. 10A as his SSID). Kudos to Art Technology Group, Andor
      Capital Management, and CNET Networks for enabling WEP.

      And which vendors have the largest share of the wireless
      networking market? Cisco and Agere, the Lucent spinoff that
      markets the WaveLAN and Orinoco brands, lead the list with 25
      access points apiece. Other players included Linksys (11),
      Cabletron spinoff Enterasys (4), Addtron (3), D-Link (2), and
      Compaq (2).

      I WAS SURPRISED at how few wireless access points I found on my
      train ride. Between Pennsylvania Station in New York and South
      Station in Boston, Network Stumbler turned up only 43 devices. The
      other 33 were all in and around Kendall Square in Cambridge,
      Mass., home of MIT and a hotbed of technology development. Of
      course, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor passes through marshes and
      across rivers as well as through a few cities, so maybe the low
      count isn't that surprising. Or maybe it indicates that, so far,
      wireless networking hasn't taken off in proportion to the amount
      of press it's getting.

      This was certainly an unscientific survey, but it highlights just
      how easy it is to access networks if they leave a wireless hole
      open. If you're exploring wireless at work, or even at home--as
      many, myself included, are--use WEP if you want to keep your
      traffic private and your passwords hidden.

      Are you disappointed with the state of wireless networking? Or
      have you had good luck with it? TalkBack to me!

      Lee Schlesinger is the senior technology editor for ZDNet's Tech
      Update section.
(fair-use, .edu, ~e.org 2002)

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