Since I have had a little bit of experience with this type of wireless security I thought I would write a quick article on it. We just moved into an apartment building and this is where this issue really takes a turn. When we first moved in, we noticed there were about 30 networks we could attach to, some really weak, others really strong, and most of them were using WEP as a security protocol.

The problem with WEP is it can be hacked in about 5 minutes. There is an flavour of Linux (a version of ubuntu, modified) called BackTrack and it is used by hackers to crack the password on WEP, WPA, and WPA2 secured networks. WPA and WPA2 are harder to crack (can take up to 10 hours) but WEP is extremely simple. Within about 30 minutes we had cracked and tested 6 wireless networks. We tired to test the WPA based networks, but it wasn’t working the way it was supposed to.

How do you protect yourself?

For WEP, get rid of it, switch your router to WPA2, although its still crackable, its harder to get into. If you absolutely NEED to remain on WEP (I have no idea WHY you would need to stay on WEP, but is you do) at least turn on MAC filtering, although someone would be able to hack your security, they would not be able to connect as their mac address would not be allowed on your network.

For WPA and WPA2 security, the way they hack it these days is no longer by brute force, seeing as WPA2 keys range from 8 to 64 characters it takes too long to crack, instead they go after the pre-shared key that is built into each router. To protect yourself against this, turn off WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), it’s a feature that exists on many routers, intended to provide an easy setup process, and it’s tied to a PIN that’s hard-coded into the device. Reaver (the application used to hack WPA and WPA2) exploits a flaw in these PINs; the result is that, with enough time, it can reveal your WPA or WPA2 password (about 10 hours). In addition it can’t hurt to add the extra layer of protection by again enabling MAC filtering and putting only the devices you use into the list.

Where to find your MAC address

Windows – The easiest way to find your mac address on a windows machine is via the CMD (Command prompt) You go to this by clicking your windows button, if you are running XP and below click the run option and type in CMD then hit enter, if you are running Windows 7, in the search field (bottom of the menu that opens when you press the windows circle) type in CMD and hit enter. Then type in ipconfig /all you will get something like this:

You may have more than one network device, look for the one that says Wi-Fi, not your Ethernet card (hard wire).

Linux – Pretty much tghe same as windows, except the command is ifconfig -a instead of ipconfig /all. Look for the wlan0 device and look for something like this: HWaddr 00:08:C7:1B:8C:02

Apple – To Find the Mac Address on a Macintosh with OS 10.3 (or X):

  1. Click on the Apple Menu.
  2. Click on System Preferences…
  3. Under the Internet & Network category, double click on Network.
  4. Where it says “Show,” make sure it is set to your ethernet card.
  5. The Mac Address is shown as the Ethernet Address and will be in a format that will look something like the following: 00:01:2a:3b:4c:5d

iPhone – Goto Settings>General>About and its listed there

Blackberry – To find your Mac Address on a blackberry device (may vary by OS version)

  1. At the Home screen, press the Menu key below the screen.
  2. Select Options.
  3. Choose Status.
  4. You should be able to view WLAN MAC address on this screen

Android – First up, you will first need to tap on the Menu Key and then just go to Settings. Now just tap on the Wireless & networks as shown in the below screen shot. Now just tap on the Wi-Fi Settings as shown below. Now, in the advance settings, you can see that the MAC Address for your console will be displayed.