WiFi

BBC’s Panorama Investigative Show Thinks WiFi is Unsafe

The basis for all of this nonsensical conclusion is apparently some unsubstantiated leap between mobile phone technology and equipment and a theorized similarity to WiFi equipment. Say what?

Someone at Panorama is WiFi phobic. My long standing opinion of the BBC as being grounded in meticulous research and analysis has crashed and there are no survivors.

 

 

How to bolster wireless security away from home

If you travel with a laptop and connect wirelessly, you need to take extra precautions. Most public wireless providers and hot spots use no security at all. Everything you send and receive is sent in the clear with no encryption. If you are using a VPN connection to your office, you will have the protection of an encrypted tunnel. There are several methods of implementing VPN. For more information, see Charlie Russel’s column Connect to Your Corporate Network from Home with Windows XP. You can also use the information in Charlie’s column to connect while you’re on the road. If you can’t use a VPN tunnel to your office, consider using a Remote Desktop connection to a computer you’ve left running at home. You can use Vista Ultimate or Business (32 or 64 bit), Windows XP Professional, Media Center Edition or Tablet PC Edition as a Remote Desktop host machine but not Vista Home Premium or Basic and Windows XP Home. Vista Home Premium, Vista Basic, and Windows XP Home, however, can be used as the remote client. If you are going to do this, you really want to use a router/gateway (and honestly, you don’t ever want to connect a computer directly to a broadband modem). You’ll need to forward port 3389 to this computer (see the router docs). To make this easy to do, get yourself a free domain on www.dyndns.com and get a router that has easy transparent support for DYNDNS. I recommend the D-Link DIR655 (Circuit City is stocking these as of 5/1/07) or the older D-Link DGL4300. For details on using dyndns, see:


http://www.dyndns.com/services/dns/dyndns/howto.html


and


http://www.dyndns.com/services/dns/dyndns/


Take additional security precautions when using public networks outside your home. Follow these additional steps to make your wireless connection more secure. When connecting to a new public network (hotels, municipal, etc.) be sure to specify Public when prompted.


Configure the Vista or Windows XP SP2 Firewall to be on with no exceptions.


To do this in Vista:


a. Right click the wireless icon in the notification area

b. Select Network and Sharing Center

c. Click Firewall on the lower left

d. Select Change Settings

e. Acknowledge the UAC prompt

f. Select Block all incoming connections


To do this in XP:


a. Right click the wireless icon in the notification area

b. Select Change Windows Firewall Settings

c. Click Don’t allow exceptions and then click OK


Vista users should also turn off all file and print sharing in the Network and Sharing Center window. If you are using Windows XP Home edition, turn off file and print sharing on your laptop when you travel. If you are using any other version of Windows XP, turn off Simple File Sharing.


Don’t visit any website or use any program that lets you send passwords, account numbers or other sensitive information in the clear. Use SSL connections for email. If you don’t know how to configure Outlook Express or other email client for SSL or if your ISP does not support this, it is probably your ISP has a secure SSL based webmail application that you can use. If in doubt and there is a choice for secure or encrypted versus normal or non secure, always select the secure version. SSL sites normally have URL’s that begin with https://


Use online banking with care. Most banks offer SSL online access. Read the fine print carefully.


Only use online merchants who provide a secure SSL site. Internet Explorer and most other browsers will display a padlock icon on the bottom status bar when accessing a SSL secured site.


 


 


TX1000 – Much nicer wireless with 802.11 Draft N ExpressCard from D-Link

One of my few complaints about HP’s TX1000 is the 802.11g performance with the embedded Broadcom radio. 802.11a on the same wireless radio is better, but the G side performance was not up to my expectations nor was it as good as other Vista Broadcom chipset/driver combinations.

So, I asked my friends at D-Link for one of their new ExpressCard/34 draft 802.11n cards.


It (DWA-643) arrived this morning. The difference was like night and day. I can copy files over the network at blazingly fast speeds and no dropped connections.


D-Link uses Atheros (as opposed to Broadcom) chips in their draft N gear.


 


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Is Your Wireless NIC Logo’d for Vista?


If you want to know if there is a signed WHQL’d driver for your wireless NIC, this page has the list you are looking for. Remember that some of the larger vendors like Atheros, Broadcom, Realtek et al produce the wireless radios in your Netgear, D-Link, Linksys etc. wireless card so if your particular model isn’t listed, it doesn’t mean no support.


Note that some drivers are on Windows Update only. This means that unless you first connect with a hardwired connection, you will never be able to pull down the driver.


Vista Hardware Ecosystem

On the residential networking side, lots of new devices (and hopefully old devices via firmware upgrades) work transparently with Vista over the network using LLTD and other Windows Rally technologies. I’ve seen cameras, photo frames and wireless routers so far.

Saw a demo today at a private showing of WCN Simple Config using my favorite router, the D-Link DIR-655 (GigE, Draft N, what could be better?). This Window’s logo’d router will be on display at the CES 2007 Partner Pavilion. It supports configuring a new SSID with WPA2 over a wired connection using a vendor supplied 8 digit authorization key. I wrote about this last year. And now the finished consumer routers are available. It’s great news for the unexperienced consumer.

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