Grandma endures wrongful ISP piracy suspension

Grandma endures wrongful ISP piracy suspension

Luckily for Cathi Paradiso, she was able to prove that the illegal downloading was not her fault.  Unfortunately, she fell victim to something that a lot of broadband users are unaware of.  The use of their internal networks for illegal means.

Cathi has a Qwest DSL modem.  Either she had wireless connectors at one time, or it was enabled for some other reason.  The wireless network WAS NOT SECURED, and people were using her modem as a gateway.  Some of them were downloading movies and television shows.  Her DSL was suspended due to this illegal downloading.

The article goes into the argument about whether ISP’s should be the Copyright Cops or not.  I’m going in a different approach—although I do have an opinion on that issue.  I’m looking at what YOU need to do to make sure that you’re not a victim (or make sure that the “Copyright Cops” have no reason to look at you).

If you do not have any wireless computers connected to your network, shut off the wireless on all routers, switches, and modems.  In the settings screen (one of them should be labeled Wireless or something similar), you should have the option to “Enable” or “Disable” wireless access.  Disable it.

If you do have wireless computers, make sure you’re using PKA or PKA2 (preferred) for your wireless security.  When you enable this, you’ll create a passphrase (NOT A PASSWORD) like “My very elderly mother just said Uh No Problem.”  (this is a phonetic to remember the planets back when Pluto was considered one).  You want to make it something that people can’t guess easily.  So, don’t make it your favorite quote, or a phrase that you blog about.  Make it something only you, and maybe your immediate family will remember.

I recommend OpenDNS for your DNS needs.  Your ISP will automatically supply you with their DNS, but OpenDNS will allow you to filter (read block) sites based on categories.  So, you can block movies and music and file sharing sites.  Of course this only works if the person jumping onto your network doesn’t have their own DNS specified (although if they have OpenDNS specified, it will use yours—not theirs).

Make sure that your router, modem, and OpenDNS passwords are strong.  It should be a minimum of 8 characters, contain Upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and/or symbols.  And it should not be something that you blog or talk about (no pet names or anniversaries).  In fact, it needs to be fairly random—not really a word at all.

These tips won’t guarantee that you’ll never fall victim to copyright thieves (or the ISP or entertainment industry), but they will go a long ways towards protecting you.  So, please take the time to learn how to secure and set up your equipment, and make sure you do it.

Have a great day:)
Patrick.

New Attack Cracks Common Wi-Fi Encryption in a Minute by PC World: Yahoo! Tech

New Attack Cracks Common Wi-Fi Encryption in a Minute by PC World: Yahoo! Tech

If you use a wireless router in your home or business, you may want to read this article.  Researchers have found a way to crack the WPA-TKIP encryption method in 60 seconds.  While there are no active exploits using this method, it’s only a matter of time.

As the article points out, since March 2006, routers were required to offer WPA-2 (or WPA-AES) for an encryption method.  This is the only method that hasn’t been cracked as of yet.  Now, that’s not saying it won’t be—just that it hasn’t.

Here’s an analogy of what the different encryption methods are in terms of security.  No encryption is like shutting your shed door, but not even bothering to put the clasp in place to lock it. WEP is the functional equivalent of putting the clasp in place on your shed door, but not attaching a padlock.  WPA-TKIP is like attaching a padlock and hiding the key under the only odd-looking rock in the vicinity.  WPA-2 (or WPA-AES) is like attaching a padlock and either taking the key with you, or hiding it in a bunch of rocks.

If you have a router and are using the wireless features, then it’s time to check this.  Are you using WEP or WPA-TKIP? If so, then it’s time to upgrade to WPA-AES or WPA-2 (they are basically the same thing, so either will work).  If your router doesn’t offer the option of WPA-AES or WPA-2, then it’s time to see if there’s a firmware upgrade from the company—or buy a new router.

While you’re at the router’s control panel, did you just put the default password in for the Administration?  If so, then it’s time to change that as well.  Because you can set all of the security in the world, but if you don’t change that password, it doesn’t mean anything.  Also, you may want to consider not broadcasting the SSID for your router.  The broadcast is only really needed if you don’t remember the SSID.  Otherwise, you can set up your network manually (it just makes it a little quicker to do) by typing it in.

Finally, before you start making changes to the encryption on your router, you need to verify that your wireless device supports WPA-AES or WPA-2.  Some older computers don’t support it out of the box, and there may not be any firmware or driver upgrades to enable that support.  If you’re in this position, then you either need to 1) buy a new wireless network card or 2) upgrade your computer—which may be a good idea anyhow, since the OS may be out of support too.

Have a great day 🙂

Patrick.

Some WPA2 Routers

Since the latest news is about the WPA encryption being cracked, I decided to look into some of the routers which are available to find the ones that support WPA2.  While some routers may not support WPA2, if they support WPA1 with AES instead of TKIP, that would work until you can get one that supports WPA2 (or until someone cracks the WPA-AES standard).

Either way, make sure you don’t use a weak password.  Also one thing that needs to be noted is this:  In order for WPA2 to work, your wireless router AND the adapter in the computer need to support it.

So here are the routers that I checked out, along with links to their pages.

Linksys
WRT54G2
WRT110
WRT54G  (Only claims WPA but has WPA2 in data sheet)
WRT310N
According to Linksys support, almost all of their routers support the WPA2 standard.  Possibly their really old routers won’t support it, but any new ones do.  You may have to do a firmware upgrade, if the box or data sheet doesn’t specify it, so check their site to make sure before purchasing the router.

D-Link
DWL-7230AP
DWL-7130AP
DWL-2230AP

I sent an e-mail to D-Link for information about other routers that support WPA2.  When I get more information, I will post it here.

Belkin
Wireless G Router
Wireless G+MIMO Router
Wireless N Router
Wireless N1 Router

3Com
3CRWER300-73
3CRWDR300A-73
3CRWDR300B-73
3CRWDR200A-75
3CRWDR101A-75
3CRWDR101B-75

Netgear

Here is a quote from the Technical Support team at Netgear.  I emphasized part of it by putting it in bold/underline…

Netgear products that do not support WPA2
RP614V2, V3,WGU624,WGT634,WGR614,WPN824,MR814
How ever N standard routers are compatible with WPA2 but the wireless adapters should have latest drivers.

Network Everywhere (low-end brand from Wal-Mart)

This series of routers doesn’t support WPA or WPA2 (at least not the ones they show on their website).  So, I would stay away from these routers, unless you absolutely have to.

My list is by no means complete.  If you have a wireless router and it supports WPA2 encryption, and it’s not on my list, please leave a comment with the model number (and a link to it if possible).

Another thing I’ll note is that some built-in wireless antennas on laptops come with WPA2 support.  My low-end Toshiba Satellite A105 from Wal-Mart has this support built in.  So, in some cases you won’t need to purchase an adapter.  But if you enable WPA2 in your router, and the adapter won’t connect, PLEASE buy a new adapter.  The cost of the new adapter is minimal compared to the potential for someone to crack your keys because you opted for a less-secure method.

Have a wonderful night:)
Patrick.

*Edited on 11-9-08 to add Netgear’s response.