EFF Wants To Build Open Wireless Router

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling on the hacker community to help create an Open Wireless Router. The organization released an alpha version of the firmware over the weekend, reporting that the software is designed to support shareable, secure Open Wireless networks.

"We are offering this hacker alpha release to engage enthusiastic technical users who would like to help us test, develop, improve, and harden the Open Wireless Router," the EFF said. "Currently the software runs on one specific model of hardware (the Netgear WNDR3800) and is based on the CeroWRT project.

One of the goals is to provide a secure software auto-update mechanism that takes advantage of Tor as well as HTTPS so that malicious, targeted update attacks are difficult to carry out. The EFF also wants to advance consumer Wi-Fi router security to avoid any possible XSS and CSRF vulnerabilities that are common with consumer-grade routers.

Another goal the EFF wants to achieve is to provide state-of-the-art network queuing so that users experience a faster Internet connection than what is  offered with a standard router. The Web-based user interface also needs to be "elegant," simple and secure, but also provide plenty of options for the experienced user.

The EFF also wants small businesses and home users to be able to launch an open network so that device owners -- whether they are family or someone passing by -- can get an Internet connection when needed. No passwords required. This guest network would be limited in bandwidth so that guest users don't slow down the main locked network. This open network would be in addition to the locked WPA2 network that requires a password.

Curious hackers with a Netgear WNDR3800 can grab the developer preview by heading here, and learn how to flash the router with the new firmware here. Those wanting to hack the code base can grab the code and instructions from Github here. This release is a work in progress.

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  • thebigt42
    PFsense with a WiFi Adapter Done
  • jardows
    Would pfSense support Open Wireless? Open Wireless seems to me to be more of a social experiment than anything. I for one will be selfish and have the Internet I pay good money for reserved for myself and guests to my home.
  • razor512
    The design will not take off due to the limits of consumer routers (as well as many enterprise ones. Wifi throughput drops significantly when you add more clients, even if they are all running at the same mode with the same QAM. Other than that, if you happen to end up with a mixture of clients, then performance takes a massive drop.

    On top of that even if you are not using wireless for your internal network, the act of allowing traffic from other people, increases the workload on the router, and benchmarking applications can detect the impact on other traffic. even if you are not using the full throughput that the router has to offer, the more network traffic you have, the worst the response time gets (this is noticed on even high end consumer routers such as the R7000 and the WRT1900AC. You generally do not escape this for a large portion of activity until you get service provider level equipment, or other high end enterprise level networking equipment.

    overall this will not be effective unless they can make a router that can rival the performance consistency of high end enterprise level networking equipment, in addition to having a dedicated wifi radio just for the public network. They must then develop a new form of QOS that will allow overhead free bandwidth management (current QOS has some performance hit, in addition to negative impacts on the response time of traffic going through it.

    On top of that, wifi is still largely a collision domain such as with the classic ethernet hubs, so there are many things in the way, preventing the public hotspot from being successful at a residential level.
  • LordConrad
    PFsense with a WiFi Adapter Done

    PFsense is to difficult for the average person. The goal is to make this platform usable by a typical Home/Small Office user.