wireless security without a base station (newbie)

Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

I just purchased a Netgear WG511T wireless PC card for my laptop, to
use while on vacation to get my work email and send files to a client.
I do not own a base station (I use CAT5 at home and at work), so the
card is only for use on the road, like pulling up to a Starbuck's and
getting online.

My question is about security... Do I have to set up any special
security measures for my laptop to be secure? I have a Dell w/ Win2000
Pro. I already have Norton Anti-virus and Internet Security running. I
have some shared folders which I can require passwords for. Does the
blinking wireless card pose any security threat? Anything I've read
about wireless security refers to setting up the base station.

Thanks in advance!
6 answers Last reply
More about wireless security base station newbie
  1. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    Yes, wifi is completely open without encryption. There are several widely
    available freeware tools to monitor and record wifi traffic, and even to
    crack WEP encryption keys. The safest alternative is WPA with AES
    encryption, but regular WEP is acceptable for home/SOHO if the key is
    changed frequently.

    Any form of encryption has to be configured on both the AP and all clients.
    When you're on the road, you'll find that most hotspots don't support
    encryption. In this case, you should assume that anything you send or
    receive is potentially being monitored by a third party. You're okay if
    you're using secure http ("https" is in the URL), or a VPN. If you connect
    to a POP server to read mail, almost certainly the account/password is
    transmitted in the clear, so someone could grab it and use your email
    account. I don't worry much about this, I just change the password
    frequently. But remember, a third party can also intercept your email as you
    read it.

    You should get a wifi firewall, and disable shares when using a public
    hotspots.

    "Joel" <jm109@lycos.com> wrote in message
    news:911f0744.0407070649.3d155363@posting.google.com...
    > I just purchased a Netgear WG511T wireless PC card for my laptop, to
    > use while on vacation to get my work email and send files to a client.
    > I do not own a base station (I use CAT5 at home and at work), so the
    > card is only for use on the road, like pulling up to a Starbuck's and
    > getting online.
    >
    > My question is about security... Do I have to set up any special
    > security measures for my laptop to be secure? I have a Dell w/ Win2000
    > Pro. I already have Norton Anti-virus and Internet Security running. I
    > have some shared folders which I can require passwords for. Does the
    > blinking wireless card pose any security threat? Anything I've read
    > about wireless security refers to setting up the base station.
    >
    > Thanks in advance!
  2. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    Norton Internet Security should suffice as your firewall. Strangely, your
    credit cards are usually safe, even at Starbucks, because e-commerce sites
    use TLS (SSL) to encrypt those connections. But as Gary said, other
    traffic, such as your email passwords and text, are visible in plaintext.
    You can compensate for this by establishing a VPN tunnel from your laptop to
    anywhere that you have a VPN server (home, office [with permission]). I
    would also configure XP (if that's what you're using) to allow only
    infrastructure (access-point) connections, and not ad-hoc (computer to
    computer) connections. Keep your wireless adapter disabled when you're not
    using it. Better yet, see if the wireless driver allows you to power off
    the adapter when you're not using it; that'll extend your battery life too.

    Ron Bandes, CCNP, CTT+, etc.

    "gary" <pleasenospam@sbcglobal.net> wrote in message
    news:LPUGc.11793$kZ5.7457@newssvr24.news.prodigy.com...
    > Yes, wifi is completely open without encryption. There are several widely
    > available freeware tools to monitor and record wifi traffic, and even to
    > crack WEP encryption keys. The safest alternative is WPA with AES
    > encryption, but regular WEP is acceptable for home/SOHO if the key is
    > changed frequently.
    >
    > Any form of encryption has to be configured on both the AP and all
    clients.
    > When you're on the road, you'll find that most hotspots don't support
    > encryption. In this case, you should assume that anything you send or
    > receive is potentially being monitored by a third party. You're okay if
    > you're using secure http ("https" is in the URL), or a VPN. If you connect
    > to a POP server to read mail, almost certainly the account/password is
    > transmitted in the clear, so someone could grab it and use your email
    > account. I don't worry much about this, I just change the password
    > frequently. But remember, a third party can also intercept your email as
    you
    > read it.
    >
    > You should get a wifi firewall, and disable shares when using a public
    > hotspots.
    >
    > "Joel" <jm109@lycos.com> wrote in message
    > news:911f0744.0407070649.3d155363@posting.google.com...
    > > I just purchased a Netgear WG511T wireless PC card for my laptop, to
    > > use while on vacation to get my work email and send files to a client.
    > > I do not own a base station (I use CAT5 at home and at work), so the
    > > card is only for use on the road, like pulling up to a Starbuck's and
    > > getting online.
    > >
    > > My question is about security... Do I have to set up any special
    > > security measures for my laptop to be secure? I have a Dell w/ Win2000
    > > Pro. I already have Norton Anti-virus and Internet Security running. I
    > > have some shared folders which I can require passwords for. Does the
    > > blinking wireless card pose any security threat? Anything I've read
    > > about wireless security refers to setting up the base station.
    > >
    > > Thanks in advance!
    >
    >
  3. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    Thanks for the info... I guess I was thinking in terms of opportunists
    "finding my signal" (please excuse my ignorance) and hacking my laptop
    while it's sitting there idle. But I never thought about the security
    of data I'm transmitting, like email login info (!). I already noticed
    that the tmobile hotspots (at Starbuck's) are not encrypted. Is there
    any way to encrypt that information myself, like from MS Outlook? Or
    can my POP provider do something on their end?
    If all else fails I can set up a VPN to my office network. So then I
    would be connecting to my office, which in turn would be supplying my
    internet connection (and therefore email, etc.)?

    Thanks again.

    "Ron Bandes" <RunderscoreBandes @yah00.com> wrote in message news:<PMVGc.71782$kz.13927432@news4.srv.hcvlny.cv.net>...
    > Norton Internet Security should suffice as your firewall. Strangely, your
    > credit cards are usually safe, even at Starbucks, because e-commerce sites
    > use TLS (SSL) to encrypt those connections. But as Gary said, other
    > traffic, such as your email passwords and text, are visible in plaintext.
    > You can compensate for this by establishing a VPN tunnel from your laptop to
    > anywhere that you have a VPN server (home, office [with permission]). I
    > would also configure XP (if that's what you're using) to allow only
    > infrastructure (access-point) connections, and not ad-hoc (computer to
    > computer) connections. Keep your wireless adapter disabled when you're not
    > using it. Better yet, see if the wireless driver allows you to power off
    > the adapter when you're not using it; that'll extend your battery life too.
    >
    > Ron Bandes, CCNP, CTT+, etc.
    >
    > "gary" <pleasenospam@sbcglobal.net> wrote in message
    > news:LPUGc.11793$kZ5.7457@newssvr24.news.prodigy.com...
    > > Yes, wifi is completely open without encryption. There are several widely
    > > available freeware tools to monitor and record wifi traffic, and even to
    > > crack WEP encryption keys. The safest alternative is WPA with AES
    > > encryption, but regular WEP is acceptable for home/SOHO if the key is
    > > changed frequently.
    > >
    > > Any form of encryption has to be configured on both the AP and all
    > clients.
    > > When you're on the road, you'll find that most hotspots don't support
    > > encryption. In this case, you should assume that anything you send or
    > > receive is potentially being monitored by a third party. You're okay if
    > > you're using secure http ("https" is in the URL), or a VPN. If you connect
    > > to a POP server to read mail, almost certainly the account/password is
    > > transmitted in the clear, so someone could grab it and use your email
    > > account. I don't worry much about this, I just change the password
    > > frequently. But remember, a third party can also intercept your email as
    > you
    > > read it.
    > >
    > > You should get a wifi firewall, and disable shares when using a public
    > > hotspots.
    > >
    > > "Joel" <jm109@lycos.com> wrote in message
    > > news:911f0744.0407070649.3d155363@posting.google.com...
    > > > I just purchased a Netgear WG511T wireless PC card for my laptop, to
    > > > use while on vacation to get my work email and send files to a client.
    > > > I do not own a base station (I use CAT5 at home and at work), so the
    > > > card is only for use on the road, like pulling up to a Starbuck's and
    > > > getting online.
    > > >
    > > > My question is about security... Do I have to set up any special
    > > > security measures for my laptop to be secure? I have a Dell w/ Win2000
    > > > Pro. I already have Norton Anti-virus and Internet Security running. I
    > > > have some shared folders which I can require passwords for. Does the
    > > > blinking wireless card pose any security threat? Anything I've read
    > > > about wireless security refers to setting up the base station.
    > > >
    > > > Thanks in advance!
    > >
    > >
  4. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    "Joel" <jm109@lycos.com> wrote in message
    news:911f0744.0407071616.62150e5a@posting.google.com...
    > Thanks for the info... I guess I was thinking in terms of opportunists
    > "finding my signal" (please excuse my ignorance) and hacking my laptop
    > while it's sitting there idle. But I never thought about the security
    > of data I'm transmitting, like email login info (!). I already noticed
    > that the tmobile hotspots (at Starbuck's) are not encrypted. Is there
    > any way to encrypt that information myself, like from MS Outlook? Or
    > can my POP provider do something on their end?
    > If all else fails I can set up a VPN to my office network. So then I
    > would be connecting to my office, which in turn would be supplying my
    > internet connection (and therefore email, etc.)?
    >
    > Thanks again.

    Disable all shares of any kind when using a wifi net, and as Ron suggested,
    make sure you never leave the adapter configured for ad-hoc (which would
    allow other stations to connect directly to you). Also run a wifi firewall.
    These things should prevent most people from hacking your laptop.

    Privacy (and protection of your home connection to your ISP, if you have a
    wifi router or AP) requires encryption. At open hotspots, you just have to
    bite the bullet and watch what you do. Outlook lets you configure secure
    authentication, but AFAIK, most POP servers don't support it. There's no way
    you can do end-to-end encryption without both endpoints co-operating. As you
    guessed, if you are using VPN to your office, you're in good shape. Anything
    you do over the VPN connection is reasonably secure, including email.

    >
    > "Ron Bandes" <RunderscoreBandes @yah00.com> wrote in message
    news:<PMVGc.71782$kz.13927432@news4.srv.hcvlny.cv.net>...
    > > Norton Internet Security should suffice as your firewall. Strangely,
    your
    > > credit cards are usually safe, even at Starbucks, because e-commerce
    sites
    > > use TLS (SSL) to encrypt those connections. But as Gary said, other
    > > traffic, such as your email passwords and text, are visible in
    plaintext.
    > > You can compensate for this by establishing a VPN tunnel from your
    laptop to
    > > anywhere that you have a VPN server (home, office [with permission]). I
    > > would also configure XP (if that's what you're using) to allow only
    > > infrastructure (access-point) connections, and not ad-hoc (computer to
    > > computer) connections. Keep your wireless adapter disabled when you're
    not
    > > using it. Better yet, see if the wireless driver allows you to power
    off
    > > the adapter when you're not using it; that'll extend your battery life
    too.
    > >
    > > Ron Bandes, CCNP, CTT+, etc.
    > >
    > > "gary" <pleasenospam@sbcglobal.net> wrote in message
    > > news:LPUGc.11793$kZ5.7457@newssvr24.news.prodigy.com...
    > > > Yes, wifi is completely open without encryption. There are several
    widely
    > > > available freeware tools to monitor and record wifi traffic, and even
    to
    > > > crack WEP encryption keys. The safest alternative is WPA with AES
    > > > encryption, but regular WEP is acceptable for home/SOHO if the key is
    > > > changed frequently.
    > > >
    > > > Any form of encryption has to be configured on both the AP and all
    > > clients.
    > > > When you're on the road, you'll find that most hotspots don't support
    > > > encryption. In this case, you should assume that anything you send or
    > > > receive is potentially being monitored by a third party. You're okay
    if
    > > > you're using secure http ("https" is in the URL), or a VPN. If you
    connect
    > > > to a POP server to read mail, almost certainly the account/password is
    > > > transmitted in the clear, so someone could grab it and use your email
    > > > account. I don't worry much about this, I just change the password
    > > > frequently. But remember, a third party can also intercept your email
    as
    > > you
    > > > read it.
    > > >
    > > > You should get a wifi firewall, and disable shares when using a public
    > > > hotspots.
    > > >
    > > > "Joel" <jm109@lycos.com> wrote in message
    > > > news:911f0744.0407070649.3d155363@posting.google.com...
    > > > > I just purchased a Netgear WG511T wireless PC card for my laptop, to
    > > > > use while on vacation to get my work email and send files to a
    client.
    > > > > I do not own a base station (I use CAT5 at home and at work), so the
    > > > > card is only for use on the road, like pulling up to a Starbuck's
    and
    > > > > getting online.
    > > > >
    > > > > My question is about security... Do I have to set up any special
    > > > > security measures for my laptop to be secure? I have a Dell w/
    Win2000
    > > > > Pro. I already have Norton Anti-virus and Internet Security running.
    I
    > > > > have some shared folders which I can require passwords for. Does the
    > > > > blinking wireless card pose any security threat? Anything I've read
    > > > > about wireless security refers to setting up the base station.
    > > > >
    > > > > Thanks in advance!
    > > >
    > > >
  5. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    "Joel" <jm109@lycos.com> wrote in message
    news:911f0744.0407071616.62150e5a@posting.google.com...
    > I can set up a VPN to my office network. So then I
    > would be connecting to my office, which in turn would be supplying my
    > internet connection (and therefore email, etc.)?

    Your office would supply your connection to the Internet, but you can use
    whatever service you want for email.

    Ron Bandes, CCNP, CTT+, etc.
  6. Archived from groups: alt.internet.wireless (More info?)

    Thank you both for the valuable advice...
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