The difficult demise of wireless access points

Linksys

I have learned that wireless access points don’t die — they degrade. Both at school and at home, WAPs become flaky in their old age, so that the wireless network exhibits problems easy to attribute to other issues such as channel conflict. I just upgraded our wireless access point at home after weeks of “a wireless error occurred” messages from our Macs. Thankfully, the new one has made our access point happier again, even though the marketing “RangePlus” gimmick still does not allow wireless to reach all the way to the bedroom (must be a PC thing). Our new AP: Linksys WRT100. The old, which served us well for years: Netgear WGT624. I also went a step further with wireless security this time, using WPA instead of WEP, locking down admin access to wired computers only, and only allowing known MACs online. I wonder whether manufacturers are actually pushing people away from WEP, since I couldn’t quite get how to correctly configure encrypted WEP keys. If we ever have a 802.11n device in the house, this device is apparently compatible.

4 comments

  1. Stephen Rahn says:

    WEP is easily cracked. Someone can sniff packets and get your key without much trouble at all. WPA is MUCH more secure. WEP is almost not worth the extra overhead. MAC filtering is better, but a clever hacker can spoof a MAC address with a little effort.

    Hope all is well in the great northwest!

  2. Richard says:

    Hi, Stephen. Yes, I am glad to be on WPA, but here’s a subtler question: have WAP manufacturers decided to only allow you to input complex WEP keys, or was I just not able to figure out how to configure it?

    How could a hacker spoof my MAC address if he/she doesn’t know what it is?

    Richard

  3. Ben Chun says:

    "How could a hacker spoof my MAC address if he/she doesn’t know what it is?"

    Well, they couldn’t… but if they wanted to find out an authorized MAC address it wouldn’t be very hard because the MAC address is sent unencrypted in every packet, even when WEP is enabled.

  4. Richard says:

    Okay, good point.

    – Richard