Feb
03
2008

WiFi

WiFi: The blanket term for Ethernet over wireless transmission.

WiFi continues to find its way into more and more gadgets; phones, games consoles, etc, etc…

WiFi works on the unlicensed 2.4ghz frequency band. Power output from WiFi devices varies greatly – I have an old Orinoco PCMCIA wireless card that puts out just 30mW of power and then I have a recent Alfa Network USB adapter that claims 500mW of output. The trend seems for the adapters to get ever more powerful, in a kind of 2.4GHz arms race!

The antenna you use with your WiFi adapter can also greatly affect reception & power output. Using the built in antenna on a wireless device limits you reception to your close neighbours, but fit an external dish antenna and you can see what people are doing several miles away!

Obviously, if you use a high gain antenna on your own Access Point you are increasing the power of the electrosmog you are exposing yourself to.

Many ISPs now include a free wireless router when you sign up for a broadband package – even though a wired router might be more appropriate.

My biggest bugbear about WiFi: people who own a WiFi router and then never use the wireless facility – but leave the beacon transmitter pulsing several times a second. TURN IT OFF! Or buy a vanilla flavoured wired ADSL router instead, you can pick them up on eBay for 99P now (the Dlink DSL-504 being a prime example).

If you own a BT HomeHub for example, it will be pulsing out beacon signals every second of the day, even though you might only be using a wired RJ45 connection to it. This is crazy, as very often it will be sat next to your PC, maybe a metre away from your head. TURN IT OFF! (or use it). If nothing else, you’re wasting electricity.

Think about it this way: a burglar sat outside your house, with a laptop running Kismet, can audit all your wireless devices and decide whether it’s worth robbing you – the unique MAC address in each wireless device can be used to identify say, Sony devices from Apple kit. You’re unwittingly announcing “here’s all my stuff” – regardless of any clever encryption you might be using (actually, the better the encryption, the newer the kit!).

The other thing about WiFi that no-one really mentions much: it’s not very secure.

Q. What’s the difference between an Open Access Point & a WEP Encrypted one?

A. About ten minutes, if you use it a lot.

Even early versions of the more secure WPA access points aren’t really secure. A laptop running AirCrack can send a Deauthentication packet to your router, then record your response when you reassociate with it. If you chose a common dictionary word as your passkey, your hacked. It’s that simple. Dumping WiFi could save you being a victim of identity theft.

If you’re a wireless Windows user & you want to know who’s got WiFi in your street, download Netstumbler. If you want to read up further on how hackers can record all your wireless network traffic, and analyse it later – Google these words: Aircrack, Dsniff, Tcpreplay, Wifizoo, Backtrack, Driftnet, URLsnarf, MSGsnarf.

If you really need to access the Internet from different rooms in your home, you can now buy Ethernet adapters that plug into the mains wall sockets and transmit network traffic over your household wiring. You can buy a basic pair for around £50. If you’ve decided to banish electrosmog from your home, it’s a good first step.

If you think you’re being affected by a neighbours WiFi – and really it’s going to have to be just on the other side of the wall from you – you can wallpaper the separating wall with a special lining paper that contains a sandwich of aluminium foil. This wallpaper also shields out next doors DECT phone signal – see our Get Shielded page for more info.

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