Network Security in Accomodation


I moved into the Student Accomodation where I currently live approximately 15 months ago (NB - accomodation is not owned by the University I am at, it is a private landlord). Since then, several alarming things have happened which lead me to believe that the network that runs through the complex is not secure.

Firstly, a short while after moving in, my hotmail account was hacked - this had never happened before in the whole 7 or so years that I'd had the account. Other people in the block have also had the hotmail accounts hacked for the first time after moving in here. I also like to think I'm fairly internet savvy and avoid dodgy websites.

Secondly, when browsing the internet on my phone, I sometimes get redirected from legitimate, respectable sites to "You have won a prize/10000th visitor" type sites. This seems to happen when I click a REAL link within a respectable site which links to somewhere else within that website - i.e. I haven't clicked an advert or anything like that.

Thirdly, I bought Guild Wars 2 a short while ago. I bought it and played it for the first time on a Saturday night. I enabled e-mail authentication (you get sent an email to activate a logon when an unrecognised IP is used). The next day, when I checked my email, I had an authentication email from the early hours of Sunday morning showing that an IP from China had tried to access my account. Obviously, for the email to have been generated they must have had my password. Fortunately, I had been sensible enough to use different passwords for Hotmail and GW2 so the "hackers" could not gain access to my account.

My computer has AVG Free (Latest) and Advanced SystemCare 6 Pro installed. My phone also has AVG Free (for Android) installed.

The network itself is (to my knowledge) simply some sort of branched network from the main access point, with sockets in each bedroom. Each flat also has a wireless router, because some sockets do not work (for whatever reason - I think the infrastructure is just crap), these routers are WEP encrypted with a reasonable password (i.e. it's not obvious and the name of the Landlords or anything).

Is there anything I can do to improve my e-safety while using this network? I don't really have any other options as I need internet access for several aspects of my Uni work and I can't afford to fork out for a mobile based internet package, using the Uni library is... really inconvenient.

Also, is it worth raising any specific concerns with the landlords? I get the impression they know virtually nothing about the network...

Thanks in advance,

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  1. WEP is a waste of time can be cracked in seconds.

    On hotmail you need to enable the options that run all traffic over HTTPS. I think by default people can use cookie attacks against you.

    Hard to say about the redirection normally this is a problem with malware running. It could be being done externally but it is unlikely. Run something like malwarebytes or hijackthis and see what comes up. There could be a keylogger installed getting your passwords.

    Once you are sure your machine is clean then your first step is to replace wep with wpa2 and choose a very good password. WPA2 can be brute force attacked but is almost impossible if you use at least 8 character password with numbers and special characters.

    Now if you think the cables in the wall may be compromised your best bet it to run a HTTPS proxy for all your traffic. Really this is not a likely senerio. Be very careful to not ignore certificate warnings if you are using a https proxy, this is the one way you can hack a HTTPS session by attempting to spoof the credentials.
  2. Thanks for your reply bill.

    I have taken your advice on hotmail and enabled https.

    With regards to the redirection, are there mobile versions of the software you mentioned? Or is it a case of connecting the phone via USB and scanning it as if it were an external drive?

    Unfortunately I cannot alter the security settings of the routers myself, I would have to have words with the landlords.

    I will look into the proxy method and see if I think it's worth it if I continue to have problems after doing a sweep with HJT and MB. I had already done a sweep of my computer with HJT but I did not identify anything suspicious in the log - though I have very little experience with the program.
  3. It is strange you get the same issue on a phone which seldom has malware issues. Redirection of URL from outside your machine is not trivial. The traffic must always pass though another device to do this. It would have to be in the house or very close since this is a form of man in the middle attack.
    Mostly why would someone go to all the trouble to do this.
    Not much you can do about it, it all comes down to proper network design to prevent it and if you have no access to anything then you can't fix much even if you could locate it.
    Leaves you the https/vpn option
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