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Wireless FAQ:Setup and Configuration

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June 26, 2006 3:34:12 PM

You've got wireless questions. We've got the answers. So we're bringing back our Frequently Asked Questions.
June 29, 2006 10:04:02 PM

Quote:
Is it possible to disable my AP's beacon?

No. Beacons announce the AP's prescence and are an essential part of 802.11 network management


What are you talking about? You can disable the broadcast of SSID on pretty much any router/AP I've every heard of.
June 29, 2006 10:23:09 PM

I am having a "discussion" (euphemism) concerning disabling the SSID broadcasting and MAC Address Filtering - my point is that even though these techniques are easily thwarted by a determined badguy, I feel they add yet another layer of protection in securing the home wireless network. And any thing that raises the fruit off the ground a little bit more is a deterrent, causing the wannabe hackers and nosy neighbors to move on to easier pickings. The other party feels that hacking the SSID and MAC address is a trivial matter, therefore, why bother disabling the SSID or filtering the MAC.

I am disappointed you did not address security in your article. :(  If you had, then that article would have been a great link to point to telling new wireless users everything they need to know about wireless LANs. Sadly, it seems incomplete - it is incomplete.

At any rate, please give opinion on SSID broadcast disabling and MAC filtering as additional layers, albeit weak layers, of security.
Related resources
June 30, 2006 2:47:32 PM

Quote:
Is it possible to disable my AP's beacon?

No. Beacons announce the AP's prescence and are an essential part of 802.11 network management


What are you talking about? You can disable the broadcast of SSID on pretty much any router/AP I've every heard of.
Beacons are management frames that are broadcast by APs. SSID's are a field inside the beacon frame.

You can disable SSID broadcast, but you can't disable the beacon frame, other than by turning off the AP.
June 30, 2006 4:44:03 PM

Quote:
At any rate, please give opinion on SSID broadcast disabling and MAC filtering as additional layers, albeit weak layers, of security.

See the new Wireless FAQ: Security
http://www.tomsnetworking.com/2006/06/30/wireless_faq_s... :D  Most excellent! Thank you!

One minor quibble. Under:
Quote:
If I disable SSID (or ESSID) Broadcast on my Access Point or wireless router, is it true that only users who I've given my SSID to will be able to connect?
You wrote,
Quote:
In spite of all this, it's still good security practice to change the default SSID... ...to keep your WLAN secure from casual snoopers.
For the same reasoning - wouldn't it be prudent to disable broadcasting? That is, to keep the casual snoopers (and nosy neighbors) at bay? I recommend changing the sentence to read:

"In spite of all this, it's still good security practice to change the default SSID for your wireless LAN, disable SSID Broadcast, and use the same techniques used for choosing a strong password to keep your WLAN secure from casual snoopers."

JMHO

Thanks again for you quick (very quick) response and changes to the FAQ.
June 30, 2006 6:29:22 PM

Quote:
I recommend changing the sentence to read:

"In spite of all this, it's still good security practice to change the default SSID for your wireless LAN, disable SSID Broadcast, and use the same techniques used for choosing a strong password to keep your WLAN secure from casual snoopers."

Good suggestion, Bill. Done.
June 30, 2006 7:17:48 PM

Quote:
I recommend changing the sentence to read:

"In spite of all this, it's still good security practice to change the default SSID for your wireless LAN, disable SSID Broadcast, and use the same techniques used for choosing a strong password to keep your WLAN secure from casual snoopers."

Good suggestion, Bill. Done. 8O Okay, since you seem so amicable, I have this... sure win investment opportunity! lol

Thanks once again for your quick response and receptiveness. It seems "complete" now for sure.
July 15, 2006 5:42:22 PM

I want to add wireless capability to a desktop computer that has a built-in ethernet port. I happen to have an older Linksys wireless router/switch that is currently sitting around. Can I somehow connect that to the ethernet port on my desktop so that it can access my wireless network, or do I need to purchase and install a wireless network adaptor. If so, would an inexpensive USB wireless network adaptor work reaonably well, or might it be "painfully" slow?

I wish a question like this would have appeared on the list of FAQs. I'm sure others have found themselves in the same situation.
July 15, 2006 7:23:25 PM

Quote:
I want to add wireless capability to a desktop computer that has a built-in ethernet port. I happen to have an older Linksys wireless router/switch that is currently sitting around. Can I somehow connect that to the ethernet port on my desktop so that it can access my wireless network, or do I need to purchase and install a wireless network adaptor. If so, would an inexpensive USB wireless network adaptor work reaonably well, or might it be "painfully" slow?
I am not sure of your current setup. It sounds like you have an existing wireless network, but ALSO have an old wireless router, currently not in use. Is that right? It would not make sense to me to use that 2nd router, but instead either connect your PC via Ethernet to your existing wireless network (assuming your existing wireless network also supports Ethernet - most do), or by a wireless network adapter - either USB or PCI - and connect to your existing wireless network. If you cannot connect directly via Ethernet and end up buying an adapter, I recommend you purchase the same brand as your current wireless router/access port. "In theory" it should not matter - in reality, it often does.

Whether it will be "painfully slow" depends on too many factors to say - such as protocols, signal strength, walls, interference, distance, etc. - and of course, whatever you are used to.
July 15, 2006 7:24:29 PM

Not as it sets.

This is a option with some Linux firmware. You need client (AP) mode.

I do not like the USB adapters due to lag. The 2.0 usb is not as bad, but I prefer nic. You do want one with the antenna on a pigtail so you can get it out from behind the pc.
July 30, 2006 1:43:13 PM

I have only one laptop computer, but would still like to create a wireless network for my house.

I would like to buy a wireless router, run the router setup software on my laptop, then disconnect my laptop from the cable modem and work anywhere in my house.

Is that possible?
July 30, 2006 1:56:27 PM

Quote:
I have only one laptop computer, but would still like to create a wireless network for my house.

I would like to buy a wireless router, run the router setup software on my laptop, then disconnect my laptop from the cable modem and work anywhere in my house.

Is that possible?
Yes.

Technically, it does not matter how many computers are on the "trusted" side of a router - a LAN of one computer (whether wireless or wired) is quite common.
August 16, 2006 7:11:00 PM

Here's a question which wasn't covered in the FAQ.

It seems like the price of access points is less than the price of comparable wireless routers. It seems counter intuitive that a device which does more would be less expensive than a simpler device. I'm comparing the linksys WAP54G to the WRT54G for example.

Is this simply a matter of supply and demand? Or do the wireless access points perform better than the comparable routers?

When looking at the routers I can't help but think "Jack of all trades, master of none".

I posted a question about this here. I hope this doesn't break any cross posting rules.
August 17, 2006 1:53:25 AM

I think you should stick with your other post because:

1. You have this one fouled up - WAPs are MORE expensive, not less - you stated it correctly in the other post.

2. Yes, you are violating rules by posting the same question in multiple places.

But to answer your question, yes, it is a supply and demand issue.
October 25, 2006 6:40:04 AM

Comment on the faq,


Hi.

Thanks, Tom for the faq. I just had a couple comments and suggestions for the faq.

Even though I've been working on Networks for years, one thing that was not too clear in the fact was the distinction between a wireless access point, and a wireless router. You might want to add that to the beginning of the faq.

I am sure that 99.4% of the people, when they read the answer for the first question of the faq, " How many clients can acess a wifi access point?", that there under the impression that the access point is the wifi router, and they think the answer refers to how many clients can acess a wifi router.

In other words, 99.4% of the people think that a wifi access point is a wifi router, and that there is no difference between the 2.

I'm sure in the future wifi access points are soon to be extinct, and only wifi routers would be left in the market. Perhaps one could set up the wifi router to act as an wifi access point.

You might want to explain the basics of networking more in future faqs. The reason people read the faqs is in order to learn from them, and the basic concepts need to be explained to them.

I am sure that because some of the things in the faq were not too clear to me, a network engineer, that most other people are completely confused.

Anyway, thanks for the faq.
October 25, 2006 12:29:17 PM

Quote:
Comment on the faq,
Hi.
Thanks, Tom for the faq. I just had a couple comments and suggestions for the faq.

Thanks for the feedback. We'll be reworking the FAQ in the near future and will try to take your suggestions into account.
October 25, 2006 2:38:29 PM

Quote:
I'm sure in the future wifi access points are soon to be extinct, and only wifi routers would be left in the market.
I don't think so - at least not in the near future. Wired networks are, and will be for many years to come, the most secure networks. Those that handle classified or "sensitive" data will likely remain wired. And so WAPs may be added somewhere to provide "limited" access for some wireless devices, such as laptops or printers.
Quote:
Perhaps one could set up the wifi router to act as an wifi access point.
Already being done. See here, here, or here.
December 9, 2006 11:06:40 AM

Quote:
The link cited in post #1 is now dead

Article URL: http://www.tomsnetworking.com/2006/06/26/wireless_faq_s...


Is there a new link to this article? Thanks.
Sorry, link is fixed now. Please note that further updates to the FAQ will be posted on SmallNetBuilder, which has replaced TomsNetworking.com
!