Connectivity issues — The good and bad of WiFi

Yesterday I had a problem with my Internet connection. Nothing serious: it just didn’t work 🙂

I don’t know why my TelCo provider keeps changing the modulation for my ADSL line. When they do that, my modem goes nuts and stops working. Now I have written down the type of modulation that they have to set on my port there, on their end, to have it working (GDMT — and now I have a backup here, for my notes…). It is always the same problem: they change things there, try different values of modulation but don’t believe me that it is the modulation. When the technician comes by, and I repeat the history again, he calls the operating center and it is solved in a matter of a few minutes. As simple as that!

But you ask yourself: why did he wrote “WiFi” on the subject if he’s speaking about ADSL? Because what saved me from total absence of connectivity was an open WiFi nearby. I don’t know who owns it, but the person has a link that is about a third or a quarter of mine but allowed me to be online for a few moments (OK, being honest, several hours and some hundreds of megabytes :-D) to work.

So, the good part was that open connection. The bad part is that this is not unusual: lots of people don’t implement any security measures for their connection. I could eavesdrop his traffic and do nasty things — I didn’t do that, of course! — or could map his computer shares — didn’t do that as well — just for the fun of it.

People are starting to use more and more wireless devices but they don’t think about security. They are still thinking about physical safety: if he can’t be in direct contact through cables or something like that then he can’t access my information.

The problem is that even though the radio signal might be weak inside your own house, it might be strong enough for someone living upstairs or downstairs or even for your neighbor.

It is crazy and real: bad signals within one company or apartment doesn’t mean a bad signal to who shouldn’t be using it. Have this on mind when setting up your next WiFi connection and always go for as much cryptography as you can get. Today, the bare minimum is WPA, the recommended minimum is WPA2. If you are a business owner, then use EAP (Radius) instead of PSK (Pre-Shared Key). If there won’t be many people using the network just temporarily, then add their MAC addresses to a list of allowed machines and block everyone else.

Better be safe than sorrow.


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