the fidelity of wi-fi: safeguarding yourself and your clients
Thread poster: Jake Estrada FCIL CL

Jake Estrada FCIL CL  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:35
Member (2003)
English to Tagalog
+ ...
Aug 3, 2005

the popularity of wi-fi is growing globally amid the increasing number of hotspots. it's now becoming quite common to see people punching away at their laptops at public hotspots such as Starbucks'. moreoever, more people are having wireless LAN (WAN) installed at their homes and offices.

however, crooks are also keeping up in step. one very recent CNN report showed how easy it is to steal personal information over wi-fi networks while prowling through a residential neighborhood and using a not-so-sophisticated wi-fi scanner.

some of us here are may already be using wi-fi, either at home/worksite or off-site. I myself don't use wi-fi at the moment but plan on getting it this year. the issue of keeping our information protected and our connections secure is getting more important.

given the sensitivity and confidentiality of the information we deal with in our profession, such discussions are in order. let's share our ideas as to how to better arm ourselves against this emerging (and presently very real) threat.

to start off, I've heard that wireless routers are quite effective, but rather costly. has anyone had experience using these?


Florence Bremond  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:35
Member (2002)
English to French
+ ...
Situation here... Aug 3, 2005

This might not be true everywhere, but as far as I know, here in France, most people who have a home WiFi network use devices provided by their isp (including me). These devices are protected by passwords (unless you deactivate them) and can only accept a new computer when in "association mode".
My neighbor cannot connect to my network unless I
- put my router in "association mode" (it only lasts for 10 mn each time)
- give him the code (26 alphanumeric chars.).

Moreover, the transmitter doesn't transmit very far: we live in an old house with thick (~ 2 ft) stone walls and if I want to use the laptop in the garden I need to place the router in the corridor so as not to have a wall in between, otherwise it doesn't work.

I'm using Wanadoo's Livebox (it costs me 3 euros per month for the rental of the device to Wanadoo, which means that if something goes wrong with it I just drive it to the shop and come back home immediately with a new one), and a close friend uses TriWay from Tiscali, which works in a similar way.

I had the same concerns as you have a few months ago but when I finally set up my network (3 computers, mine in main (in USB), plus the kids' desktop and my laptop in slave, WiFi) I discovered how tight the safety features are and I really feel secure now.

But I have heard, too, that some routers are not so well protected so this might be the first thing to check.


Jake Estrada FCIL CL  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:35
Member (2003)
English to Tagalog
+ ...
offsite laptops appear to be most prone Aug 3, 2005

rather the same here, WAN routers here in manila are available for quite an affordable price, but that's for "fixed locations" i.e. hooking up multiple computers at home or at the office without cables.

how about for laptops? some of us here (now or in the future) may for one reason or another prefer doing translations off-site. pardon the ignorance, but since we can't lug our wireless routers around at McDonald's for example, are there any substitute security measures such as a portable router perhaps or encryption software designed specifically for laptop wi-fi?

I think our clients would soon be asking about the measures we take in securing our wi-fi connections (if any), similar to how they are already requesting us to provide information about our existing firewall, anti-virus software, data back-up protocols, etc.

[Edited at 2005-08-03 12:50]


Graciela Carlyle  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Belkin Aug 3, 2005

Jake Estrada wrote:
to start off, I've heard that wireless routers are quite effective, but rather costly. has anyone had experience using these?

Hi Jake,

I have a Belkin router (it wasn't that expensive) and have set it to be completely invisible to the neighbourhood.
However, I saw that several of my neighbours are happily broadcasting and a couple of times, while working in the garden, I accidentally connected through one of them because he didn't have any security set.

My router is set on 128-bit WEP mode, *not to broadcast* (this prevents your network from appearing in the lists of available networks of your neighbours), and MAC filtering enabled (only the MAC addresses of the computers or devices I entered are allowed on the network).

I've never had any security problems so far.
Anyway, I think all modern routers now must have good security options. The key is to set them properly.



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