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Wi-Fi Application

Network Monitoring and Security Check

Attempting to "hack" into your own WiFi network can help you close the gap of wireless vulnerability and blind spots.

Unless you are sharing the Internet access with your friendly neighbor, you should keep the router's password only to those you trust and have it changed regularly.

If you have not setup your secured password, you should do it now. Four main options are there in your router, namely

OPEN (Unsecured)
WEP (primitive and breakable)
WPA/WPA2-PSK (difficult to break)
WPA-802.1x (remote authentication server, for the geek)

There are many Wi-Fi hacking techniques and the tools to break WEP nearly free out there, as long as you have a high signal penetration Wi-Fi antenna that supports packet monitoring and injection such as this. So you might want to choose WPA/WPA2-PSK as it is difficult and costly to break, unless you are a geek who are able to store the WPA-802.1x keys remotely other than your router that most people don't.

WPA-802.1x provides an authentication mechanism to devices wishing to attach to a LAN or WLAN. Your username and password are stored in a remote database service known as RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial In User Service). Your router need to pre-set the RADIUS server IP address, its port and a shared key so that it knows where to go when a user try to login.

In our own situation, we have chosen WPA/WPA2-PSK in our router setting for its similicity but hard to break, plus regular password changes and network device checks.

How? You simply need to go to your computer's Windows Explorer and click "Network" on the lower left hand corner. Turn on network discovery if not yet enabled. You'll be able to see the other Windows computer(s) attached to your router, and spot the alien if it's there.

To discover all devices including the phones and tablets in your wireless network, you have to go to the admin page of your router and display all the attached devices. Most routers have this feature. Check if you are experiencing slow Internet and choppy video to see if someone is barging in without you knowing it.

So far we have covered the inside-out approach. But what about looking from outside-in with a wireless detector?

There are many. You can make a powerful wireless detector in terms of range and accuracy easily with the NextG USB-Yagi directional antenna and one of these software applications.

Our favorite is the Network Stumbler 0.4.0 that runs on Windows XP and it's free. It offers real time graphical display of all the SSID (wireless networks) within range, showing the signal strength (dB), security, channel numbers, etc.

One particular useful indicator is your channel against the others. Switch to a spare channel that no one use if you overlap your channel with another SSID. In case all channels are occupied, switch to the one shared by the SSID with the lowest signal strength. This avoids the channel interference and sometime a check as simple as this could speed up your Internet.


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