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wep problems

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Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 25, 2005 12:19:16 PM

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Hi,


About a week ago, one of our laptops has started having problems
connecting with the router. The laptop is an inspiron 5100, xp home
sp2, and the router is a netgear. The router's a couple years old and
doesn't have wpa.


The laptop will connect without encryption, but when wep is turned on,
it will detect the network but can't connect. No software changes
recently, and the router settings haven't been touched since it's been
working. The only thing I can think of that might have changed the
wireless software is an automatic update. I've tried system restore,
but no luck. I reset the router as well, but no change.


Any ideas?


Thanks

More about : wep problems

Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 25, 2005 1:07:07 PM

Archived from groups: (More info?)

On 25 Aug 2005 08:19:16 -0700, hunwalla@gmail.com wrote:

>Hi,
>
>
>About a week ago, one of our laptops has started having problems
>connecting with the router. The laptop is an inspiron 5100, xp home
>sp2, and the router is a netgear. The router's a couple years old and
>doesn't have wpa.

Any particular reason you didn't bother to supply a model number for
your Netgear router? I really want to know why. It seems that
EVERYONE that posts quesions in this newsgroup seems to consider the
model numbers of their hardware to be unimportant or unworthy of their
time and attention. Is it some fear of numbers that causes a deep
psychological aversion? Perhaps you find it necessary to provide an
additional challenge to those that try to answer questions? Please
don't feel that I'm picking on you as I do this to everyone that fails
to supply what hardware they're working with.

>The laptop will connect without encryption, but when wep is turned on,
>it will detect the network but can't connect. No software changes
>recently, and the router settings haven't been touched since it's been
>working. The only thing I can think of that might have changed the
>wireless software is an automatic update. I've tried system restore,
>but no luck. I reset the router as well, but no change.

Common problem. The problem is that there are two algorithms for
converting an ASCII WEP key to Hex. Windoze XP only supports one of
them. If you're unfortunate enough to have incompatible hardware, WEP
will fail. To insure maximum frustration, Microsloth doesn't bother
to supply any useful diagnostics for encryption key failure. All you
get is a 45 second delay while it proclaims "Obtaining IP address"
which eventually changes to "Limited Connectivity...". Neither of
these brilliantly conceived messages offer any clue that the WEP key
exchange failed.

The easy solution is to use a Hex key instead of an ASCII key. I do
this on all my systems because I'm tired of running into this problem.
Yes, the Hex key is 26 characters long, a pain to type, and impossible
to remember, but I can't fix that. Try Hex, it should work.


--
Jeff Liebermann jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us
150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
AE6KS 831-336-2558
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 25, 2005 8:29:49 PM

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> Any ideas?

Leave WEP off?
Related resources
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 25, 2005 8:50:41 PM

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Hi Jeff,

I'm not home now, so I don't have a model number in front of me, but
I'll post it when I get home if you think it will help. I assumed it
to be a problem on the laptop rather than the router, so that's the
info I provided.

Some more info:

The connection had been working correctly, until it didn't. There were
no software, router config, or system setting changes within at least
several days of the problem, though system update does install
automatically. The system does connect with WEP off. It does not
connect with WEP 64bit or 128bit enabled.

I have another inspiron 5160 xp pro sp2 that does connect to the router
with WEP on.

As for the key, I am using the hex key. I'll repeat, the connection
settings - including the key - had not changed when the problem began.


For the moment the connection is secured only by a mac address access
list. I'll run a few tests tonight. I have a DSL modem/WAP which will
use WPA or WEP. I'll try it with both. I'll also try booting with a
mepis livecd and connecting to each router router. This should help
narrow down the source of the problem.

I'll post the results, as well as the router model number. Any other
info that might be useful?
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 25, 2005 8:52:06 PM

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heh, at the moment, that's what I'm going with
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 26, 2005 4:27:05 AM

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On 25 Aug 2005 16:50:41 -0700, hunwalla@gmail.com wrote:

>I'm not home now, so I don't have a model number in front of me, but
>I'll post it when I get home if you think it will help. I assumed it
>to be a problem on the laptop rather than the router, so that's the
>info I provided.

Assumption, the mother of all screwups. I've lost count of how many
Windoze boxes have had mysterious registry changes after updates,
installs, uninstalls, power glitches, hardware changes, and just
running programs. However, if you've tried system restore without
success, methinks it's a fair assumption that there was no mysterious
registry change.

Incidentally, one recent issue with encryption failure turned out to
be something rather dumb. The customer insisted that they were typing
in a Hex key. However, when I finally was able to figure out what
they were doing, I found that they were typing in Hex into the ASCII
box on the config utility. If your key length is 10 or 26 hex digits,
you're doing it right. If it's 5 or 13 digits, you're doing ASCII.

>The connection had been working correctly, until it didn't. There were
>no software, router config, or system setting changes within at least
>several days of the problem, though system update does install
>automatically. The system does connect with WEP off. It does not
>connect with WEP 64bit or 128bit enabled.

That leaves:
1. Mis-typed WEP key on the Dell 5100 client.
2. Wireless Zero Config doing battle with what I'll guess to be
Intel Proset utilities talking to an Intel something MiniPCI
wireless card.
3. MAC address filtering on the router.
4. IP address filtering on the router.

>I have another inspiron 5160 xp pro sp2 that does connect to the router
>with WEP on.

That means the router is fine. That does NOT mean that the router
settings are correct.

>As for the key, I am using the hex key. I'll repeat, the connection
>settings - including the key - had not changed when the problem began.

A few weeks ago, I had a client with a similar problem. Out of
nowhere, Windoze XP SP2 decided that her laptop needed a "Network
Bridge" installed. Check the "Network Connections" thing in the
control panel and see if this has appeared. Anyway, it messed up
connectivity rather badly.

>For the moment the connection is secured only by a mac address access
>list. I'll run a few tests tonight. I have a DSL modem/WAP which will
>use WPA or WEP. I'll try it with both.

>I'll also try booting with a
>mepis livecd and connecting to each router router. This should help
>narrow down the source of the problem.

Well, that will hopefully eliminate the hardware as the possible
source of the problem. However, so much of the Intel Centrino
functionality is tied up in software, that I doubt that this will show
much, especially since the card does work without encryption.

>I'll post the results, as well as the router model number. Any other
>info that might be useful?

1. Model number of the MiniPCI card used in the Dell 5100 laptop.
2. Using XP SP2 Wireless Zero Config or Proset to run the card?
3. Proset version number.

--
# Jeff Liebermann 150 Felker St #D Santa Cruz CA 95060
# 831.336.2558 voice http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
# http://802.11junk.com
# jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us
# jeffl@cruzio.com AE6KS
August 26, 2005 12:46:54 PM

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<hunwalla@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:1125015763.963410.208340@g47g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
>I know wep doesn't provide much security from real hackers, it's on
> mainly to keep the neighbors from digging through our shares, and the
> current mac solution is probably good enough for that.

That's actually a misconception. Lots of people will tell you that hacking
is easy, and will even say that WEP is weak and easily hacked. These are
people who have never hacked into anything in their life. The reality is
that WEP is fine for most users. The issue with security is whether
something is *really difficult to hack or *nearly impossible to hack. I just
finished testing many security protocols, and the reality is that there are
a lot of steps involved, you have to know Linux (and I mean, *know Linux),
you have to be within range of the network and run software for maybe an
hour or more. Also, hacking is *illegal, so people will need to be happy
with the idea of being a criminal.

- JB
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 26, 2005 1:23:13 PM

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On Fri, 26 Aug 2005 08:46:54 -0500, "JB"
<jbrandonbbremove@hotmail.com> wrote:

>That's actually a misconception. Lots of people will tell you that hacking
>is easy, and will even say that WEP is weak and easily hacked. These are
>people who have never hacked into anything in their life. The reality is
>that WEP is fine for most users.

As one who has done more than a few dry runs in the area of wireless
hacking, I can assure you that it's fairly easy to crack WEP. 30 mins
of sniffing and its done for ASCII generated keys. I usually just
leave my laptop in my truck running, go to lunch, and have the WEP key
when I'm done. Interestingly, every once in a while I run into a
system that I simply cannot extract the WEP key no mattery how hard I
try. I captured over a gigabtye of data on one such system and was
not able to do anything with it using 5 different WEP key extraction
tools. I have no clue why or what they were doing. (No, it wasn't
WPA).

What is difficult is finding a location that will offer a decent
capture of both sides of a wireless session that will yield useful or
incriminating information. You then need a method of taking the TCP
sequence numbers and reassembling the captured data into something
that's readable or useful. This of course assumes that the wireless
user isn't using SSL, SSH, or a VPN.

If obtaining the WEP key is simply to get "access" to the connected
LAN, then there's a real danger. Most internal LAN's are not properly
secured. I hate to admit it, but my home LAN and part of my office
LAN are essentially wide open to a wireless intruder.

>The issue with security is whether
>something is *really difficult to hack or *nearly impossible to hack. I just
>finished testing many security protocols, and the reality is that there are
>a lot of steps involved, you have to know Linux (and I mean, *know Linux),
>you have to be within range of the network and run software for maybe an
>hour or more. Also, hacking is *illegal, so people will need to be happy
>with the idea of being a criminal.

I define impossible as when the cost of the captured data or access
exceeds the value of the captured data or access. However, I don't
think the average teenager that wants broadband access from the
neighbors to bypass the parental controls filter in their home router
is going to subscribe to my definition. He'll do ANYTHING to get
access to the neighbors system, which includes staying up all night to
extract the WEP key.

As for knowing Linux, I agree. At this time, most of the useful tools
are written exclusively for Linux. I'm guessing that it would now be
possible to find a collection of Windoze tools that will do the trick.
I haven't tried. Anyway, with the prevalence of GUI based Linux
LiveCD's, methinks the major barrier to using Linux (installing it on
a hard disk) has been eliminated. Either way, the tools are there and
getting more common and simpler every day.

--
Jeff Liebermann jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us
150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
AE6KS 831-336-2558
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 26, 2005 1:28:17 PM

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hunwalla@gmail.com wrote:

> I know wep doesn't provide much security from real hackers, it's on
> mainly to keep the neighbors from digging through our shares, and the
> current mac solution is probably good enough for that.

If all you want to do is keep the neighbors from seeing your shares, just
don't expose Netbios to the net. Block ports 137-139.
--
derek
August 26, 2005 5:57:57 PM

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"Jeff Liebermann" <jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us> wrote in message
news:4bfug1tunhjh6c47jr5prkauhhqrm1a7ud@4ax.com...
> On Fri, 26 Aug 2005 08:46:54 -0500, "JB"
> <jbrandonbbremove@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>>That's actually a misconception. Lots of people will tell you that hacking
>>is easy, and will even say that WEP is weak and easily hacked. These are
>>people who have never hacked into anything in their life. The reality is
>>that WEP is fine for most users.
>
> As one who has done more than a few dry runs in the area of wireless
> hacking, I can assure you that it's fairly easy to crack WEP. 30 mins
> of sniffing and its done for ASCII generated keys. I usually just
> leave my laptop in my truck running, go to lunch, and have the WEP key
> when I'm done. Interestingly, every once in a while I run into a
> system that I simply cannot extract the WEP key no mattery how hard I
> try. I captured over a gigabtye of data on one such system and was
> not able to do anything with it using 5 different WEP key extraction
> tools. I have no clue why or what they were doing. (No, it wasn't
> WPA).

Well, I've read your posts, Jeff. You're a smart guy. Easy for you is a
month of failure for a lot of average computer users. I've been writing
about security and wireless for five years and before that worked in IT for
10 years, so if that's a dry run, I'd love to see what a wet run looks like!
Cracking WEP is easy if you know what to do. Knowing what to, that's the
hard part.

- JB
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 26, 2005 6:02:34 PM

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> That's actually a misconception. Lots of people will tell you that hacking
> is easy, and will even say that WEP is weak and easily hacked. These are
> people who have never hacked into anything in their life. The reality is
> that WEP is fine for most users. The issue with security is whether

Really? http://www.crimemachine.com/Tuts/Flash/wepcracking.html

Just download the ISO, burn to CD, boot up and follow the tutorial and
crack away. Half an hour if you take a long time.

> something is *really difficult to hack or *nearly impossible to hack. I just
> finished testing many security protocols, and the reality is that there are
> a lot of steps involved, you have to know Linux (and I mean, *know Linux),

Follow the tutorial above.

> you have to be within range of the network and run software for maybe an
> hour or more. Also, hacking is *illegal, so people will need to be happy
> with the idea of being a criminal.

It's only a problem if caught!

David.
August 26, 2005 6:02:35 PM

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"David Taylor" <djtaylor@bigfoot.com> wrote in message
news:MPG.1d7930642c816cb7989db1@news.cable.ntlworld.com...
>> That's actually a misconception. Lots of people will tell you that
>> hacking
>> is easy, and will even say that WEP is weak and easily hacked. These are
>> people who have never hacked into anything in their life. The reality is
>> that WEP is fine for most users. The issue with security is whether
>
> Really? http://www.crimemachine.com/Tuts/Flash/wepcracking.html
>
> Just download the ISO, burn to CD, boot up and follow the tutorial and
> crack away. Half an hour if you take a long time.

You do realize that what you just described is incredibly difficult for 99%
of the computer users out there, right? I mean, most do not even know what
an ISO is, or how to burn one. And boot into Linux? Forget it. They
seriously won't get past WLAN card config...

My question is: have you done the tutorial yourself? Because countless
problems arise, and you need to know more than just how to select programs
on a menu; there are lots of options when it comes to the network, WEP
64-bit versus 128-bit, character versus hex, the WLAN card you are using,
and on and on. Now, maybe for an engineer who knows Linux this is pretty
easy. But the 16-year-old down the road is not going to be booting into
Linux and running CowPatty anytime soon. At least successfully.

>
>> you have to be within range of the network and run software for maybe an
>> hour or more. Also, hacking is *illegal, so people will need to be happy
>> with the idea of being a criminal.
>
> It's only a problem if caught!
>
> David.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 26, 2005 11:04:27 PM

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> You do realize that what you just described is incredibly difficult for 99%
> of the computer users out there, right? I mean, most do not even know what
> an ISO is, or how to burn one. And boot into Linux? Forget it. They
> seriously won't get past WLAN card config...

Yes it's not going to appeal to all but a minority but my point here was
that you don't need a great understanding of Linux and anyone that does
have some clue *can* go and download the iso, burn and boot, there's
really not much difficult about that part. Sure, they might stumble at
the "do I have a prism card with the right chipset" or other supported
card stage but for someone that wants to do this, it's not as difficult
as is made out and if they choose a nice supported card then I think
you'll agree that typing:-

monitor.wlan <interface> <channel>

isn't that hard a command to type to set up monitor mode on the right
interface. Plenty of help for anyone that stumbles on the forums. It's
not like it's a voyage of discovery for every individual anymore.

> My question is: have you done the tutorial yourself? Because countless

Yep.

> easy. But the 16-year-old down the road is not going to be booting into
> Linux and running CowPatty anytime soon. At least successfully.

You *seriously* underestimate 16 year olds who have a penchant for being
nerdy and have time on their hands.

David.
August 26, 2005 11:04:28 PM

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"David Taylor" <djtaylor@bigfoot.com> wrote in message
news:MPG.1d797881c11ac371989dba@news.cable.ntlworld.com...

> You *seriously* underestimate 16 year olds who have a penchant for being
> nerdy and have time on their hands.
>
I think I'm being realistic. I know a lot of teenagers, one lives across the
street. I work with youth at a teen center. The point is, yes there are
teens who can figure this stuff out, but I know one guy who is pretty nerdy
and can build a PC and plays games all day long. He's also rather
destructive and has spent some tiem chatting with the police int he area
about various issues. I know he has tried linux, but it's all a big mystery
to him. Linux is not a teenager-friendly operating system, because there's a
(as you know) Unix flavor to it that most people don't just pick up on a
Saturday afternoon.

I guess I mean the learning curve for hacking is higher than I think most
people seem to assume. Also, there are a few other steps involved: the
person has to be okay with doing something that is criminal, they have to
have a fast laptop with plenty of storage (I know some teens have laptops,
but they are not fast and they do not have massive storage), they need to be
able to get close to the network without getting caught, and they need to
know Linux really well. I just don't see the average reckless kid passing
through all those hoops...

- JB
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 26, 2005 11:07:08 PM

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> Knowing what to, that's the
> hard part.

Google "wep crack"

:) 
August 26, 2005 11:07:09 PM

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"David Taylor" <djtaylor@bigfoot.com> wrote in message
news:MPG.1d79791ed33f2701989dbb@news.cable.ntlworld.com...
>> Knowing what to, that's the
>> hard part.
>
> Google "wep crack"
>
No, no -- see, that's knowing where to find what to do. Knowing *what to do*
is not something you can do by searching. I can search for a wep crack all
day, but until I understand everything that needs I'm not going to be
hacking into anything. So, I can find out how build a surface-to-air rocket.
I can probably even buy the parts. But, knowing how to actually complete the
tasks is different. That's more than a Google search, it requires a lot of
prior knowledge.

The steps are readily available, but that doesn't mean anyone can perform
them.

Now, another discussion might be, should the steps even be readily
available?

- JB
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 27, 2005 1:39:33 AM

Archived from groups: (More info?)

On Fri, 26 Aug 2005 13:57:57 -0500, "JB"
<jbrandonbbremove@hotmail.com> wrote:

>Well, I've read your posts, Jeff. You're a smart guy.

I'm not smart, just sneaky.

>Easy for you is a
>month of failure for a lot of average computer users.

Ever notice my domain name? LearnByDestroying.com.
Let's just say that my learning curve tends to be rather steep and
expensive at time. My not being much of a programmist limits what I
can do with software.

>I've been writing
>about security and wireless for five years and before that worked in IT for
>10 years,

Well, since you're a writer on security, perhaps you can explain why
there's such a wide variation in recommended wireless security
measures. Well, perhaps I'm part of the problem because I have such a
warped view of what I consider to be "adequate" security.

Incidentally, congratulations on having worked in IT for 10 years and
still preserved your sanity.

>so if that's a dry run, I'd love to see what a wet run looks like!

Well, re-reading my own posting, I indicated the *I* was the one that
have done more than a few dry runs. I didn't intend to suggest that
your experience in wireless security is in any way lacking.

What I meant was that most "security experts"[1] can demonstrate that
they can crack a WEP key under almost ideal circumstance. The access
point and sniffer laptop are in the same room. There's no
interference from neighboring LAN's. There's no line of sight issues.
The sniffer can easily hear both sides of the connection. In some
cases, the WEP key is intentionally trivialized in order to shorten
the length of time necessary to demonstrate to management that it can
be done. Far too easy to be considered anything better than a dry
run.

The problems start when the same person has to demonstrate WEP
cracking under not so ideal circumstances from outside the building.
In addition, just getting the WEP key doesn't guarantee access if
there's any type of authorization login or authentication RADIUS
server involved. It's also useless with SSL, SSH2, and VPN traffic.
Where I blundered into difficulties was when I had a gigabloat of
captured encrypted traffic, I had successfully extracted the WEP key,
but there was no obvious way of decrypting the captured traffic using
the WEP key. Once I got past that major obstacle, I had to figure out
how to sort the TCP packets in sequence so I could reassemble the
email messages that were in the capture file.

>Cracking WEP is easy if you know what to do. Knowing what to, that's the
>hard part.

Oh, script kiddies are quite adept at finding tools and following
instructions. Once some discloses the procedures and tools on a
hacker mailing list, the horde is out there trying it.

[1] Security expert. Someone that actually attends the various
security conventions.

--
# Jeff Liebermann 150 Felker St #D Santa Cruz CA 95060
# 831.336.2558 voice http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
# http://802.11junk.com
# jeffl@comix.santa-cruz.ca.us
# jeffl@cruzio.com AE6KS
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 27, 2005 1:56:09 AM

Archived from groups: (More info?)

> know Linux really well. I just don't see the average reckless kid passing
> through all those hoops...

Average kid, no but there's enough and the information is now very easy
to get hold of and getting easier.

Is it a big issue for home users? Probably not. I'd be embarrassed to
tell you what I did work wise and say that I use WEP64 in the same
sentence. :) 

David.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 27, 2005 1:59:20 AM

Archived from groups: (More info?)

> day, but until I understand everything that needs I'm not going to be
> hacking into anything. So, I can find out how build a surface-to-air rocket.

Point being, you can Google, find a forum and read and ask, it's that
simple.

> I can probably even buy the parts. But, knowing how to actually complete the
> tasks is different. That's more than a Google search, it requires a lot of
> prior knowledge.

Not prior, only the ability to ask people that will keep telling you
what to do until you achieve the goal.

> The steps are readily available, but that doesn't mean anyone can perform
> them.

No, only those that have the equipment or care to bother. The equipment
lists are searchable, the tools downloadable and the forums to ask
questions when it's not working as expected. What more is needed?

> Now, another discussion might be, should the steps even be readily
> available?

Ah well that's where we accuse the internet of every wrong doing. You
can figure that as soon as someone knows something, *anywhere* it isn't
going to stay private for very long and just because something isn't
published, doesn't make it any more secure. We'd still be believing WEP
was secure if it weren't for all the cracks, forcing vendors to do
something about it.

David.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 27, 2005 10:06:23 PM

Archived from groups: (More info?)

I have it working!

You were right, Jeff, about the router being signifigant.

The problem spread to my other laptop, also a dell, so I imagine it was
precipitated by a windows update, though I can't be sure. If this is
the case, there seems to have been a delay of a few days (a couple
reboots? a few cycles of signing on or off? a cached setting somewhere
expiring?) between the windows update and the problem starting. If
there is a similar delay after reversing the cause of the problem, that
would explain why system restore didn't seem to have helped.

I was able to connect, with WEP, to the router from either laptop when
running mepis linux from a livecd, but from neither when running
windows, so the software on the laptop was a factor.

But, just to try it, I updated the firmware on the router. Problem
solved. Looking through the bugfixes listed with the update, I saw one
for compatablity problems with centrino systems. Neither of our
laptops are centrino, but there must have been a compatablitly problem
exposed by the update to the laptop software, and fixed by the update.


Here are the details:

Dell Inpiron 5160
XP2
Windows Zero Config
Dell Wireless 1350 WLAN Mini-PCI Card

Dell Inspiron 5100
XP2
Windows Zero Config
Dell TrueMobil 1300 WLAN Mini-PCI Card

NETGEAR MR814v2
Firmware Version 5.3_05
Firmware updated from 5.03

Thanks for all your help,
hunwalla
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
August 29, 2005 2:11:30 PM

Archived from groups: (More info?)

JB wrote:

> "David Taylor" <djtaylor@bigfoot.com> wrote in message
> news:MPG.1d7930642c816cb7989db1@news.cable.ntlworld.com...

(nice bit of misattribution there, JB)

Somebody else actually wrote:
>>> That's actually a misconception. Lots of people will tell you that
>>> hacking
>>> is easy, and will even say that WEP is weak and easily hacked. These are
>>> people who have never hacked into anything in their life. The reality is
>>> that WEP is fine for most users. The issue with security is whether
>>
>> Really? http://www.crimemachine.com/Tuts/Flash/wepcracking.html
>>
>> Just download the ISO, burn to CD, boot up and follow the tutorial and
>> crack away. Half an hour if you take a long time.
>
> You do realize that what you just described is incredibly difficult for
> 99% of the computer users out there, right? I mean, most do not even know
> what an ISO is, or how to burn one. And boot into Linux? Forget it. They
> seriously won't get past WLAN card config...

Great. So we've got 100 million Internet users in North America, and 99%
couldn't do that. There's a MILLION hackers out there trying to get into
my wireless network!!!!
--
derek
October 24, 2006 9:47:23 AM

I'd like to ask you something, going back to the main thread.
About the WEP Problem, I'm having a problem in my laptop, I get connected to the router, the DHCP assigns an IP to me, but the connection is dead.
Even the pings to the router dies.

Some times, there are a few seconds of connectivity in the beginning and then dies.

I'm using a DELL Inspiron 6000. I bought the laptop used (fool of me...), I always have to use the unencrypted wireless networks.

How can I check if it is a hardware problem, a driver corruption, or windows itself? Since it is driving nuts.

Thank you guys, I hope you can help me,
Dan
!