Category: wifi

BT Broadband users can be hacked!

James Galvin posted a couple of weeks ago about a recently published exploit which made hacking Eircom’s wireless routers trivial.

As Eircom are the largest provider of residential broadband in Ireland, this is potentially a big deal. As Joe Drumgoole commented at the time:

they have inadvertently created Ireland’s largest free WIFI network. Good man Eircom!

However, BT is now facing an even more serious issue on its wireless routers according to an article in the Register today. At least in Eircom’s case, the vulnerability only exposed the WEP key, allowing use of the wifi on the router.

In the case of the BT router, the Reg is reporting that

a remote attacker can quietly gain full administrator control over a device simply by social engineering a user into visiting a website. The exploit makes it possible to steal a user’s WPA key, listen in on VoIP calls, steal VoIP credentials or change DNS settings so users are silently redirected to fraudulent websites

This is a far more serious an issue then the Eircom one and the number of routers this affected is likely to be orders of magnitude greater.

The one saving grace is that the hack hasn’t been published in the wild, as was the case with Eircom. Yet.

OS X to Vista networking help needed

Anyone know of any good resources for networking a Mac (running OS X) and a PC (running Vista) on a peer-to-peer lan network?

I’m asking because I have a 4.75gb file on my Vista machine which I want to transfer to the Mac and it is too big to burn to DVD.

I have turned on File Sharing for Windows on the Mac but although the two machines are on the same subnet (192.168.2.x), and both can ping the router (192.168.2.254) neither can ping the other!

I have tried both wireless and wired networks, to no avail!

Problems receiving calls with Truphone

I set up a Truphone account to try out with the Nokia E61 I have been using the last few days.

Truphone gives you a US landline number when you sign up for an account with them (mine is 14259053151). Calls to this number are supposed to be routed to my mobile whenever I am logged into a wifi hotspot on the phone’s wifi.

Unfortunately, although this worked fine yesterday, it has stopped working today for some reason. Calls to my US number now go straight to voice mail.

I can call out no problem using Truphone and I can collect my voicemails so there is nothing wrong with the account or the wifi, just there seems to be an issue with incoming calls. 😦

FON need to improve their router firmware

FON have a nifty little idea (and some investment from Google, Skype and Index Ventures, if memory serves). Their idea is that if you use one of their wireless routers, you get a login which you can then use on any other FON owner’s wireless router.

This gives you free wi-fi Internet access anywhere there is a FON user. Great.

One thing about this really bugs me though. Whenever my computer has to re-establish a connection with my router (whenever it wakes from sleep, or I return to the office from a meeting), if I try to browse to an Internet page, I am presented with the FON login page.

This wouldn’t be too bad, if the login page could remember the page I was originally trying to browse to and re-directed me there after successful login.

No, instead the successful login re-directs to a useless FON page.

Now, consider what happens when I re-start my computer. I shut down my browsers (I generally have 4-5 browsers running simultaneously with 30-40 tabs per browser). When I re-open any browser, I am presented with 30-40 FON login pages with no hope of getting back to the page which had been originally open.

AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! Totally infuriating.

This happened once too often this morning and I am now turning off my FON router.

FON, if you get this issue resolved, let me know and I will give you another try. Until then, hasta lluego!

Webaroo – selling the Internet?

A company called Webaroo are selling copies of the Internet on a hard drive according to Networkworld– why? Well, they say, it will be handy for people who don’t have access to an Internet connection.
As Webaroo president Brad Husick explains:

“Let’s say the HTML Web is 10 billion pages — it’s actually a little less than that — but at 10K per page that’s 1 million gigabytes, also known as a petabyte. It’s going to be a long time before notebooks have million-gigabyte hard drives. So how do you get a million gigabytes down to what you need?â€?

Webaroo does it, he says, through “a server farm that is of Web scale” and a set of proprietary search algorithms that whittle the million gigabytes down to more manageable chunks that will fit on a hard drive: up to 256 megabytes for a growing menu of “Web packs” on specific topics — your favorite Web sites, city guides, news summaries, Wikipedia and the like — that make up the service’s initial offerings; and something in the neighborhood of 40 gigabytes for the full-Web version the company intends to release later this year.

Ok – so you are telling me that Webaroo are going to make a copy of this site (amongst others) and sell it to their customers? Not without my permission, they won’t and I can see lots of other website owners having similar objections. If this does become a significant issue for Webaroo, it could prove costly (to pay website owners to re-sell their information) or they could end up with an extremely cut-down Internet which will effect its usefulness.

If Webaroo somehow manage to overcome that issue, how will they overcome the immediacy issue? Most of the sites I browse, I do to get up-to-the minute information – by definition, Webaroo will be unable to offer this facility.

Then there’s the issue of the growth of the Internet – I haven’t seen recent figures but with the rampant growth in the ‘Live Web’ (the blogosphere is doubling in size every 5.5 months) this is outpacing the rate of growth of hard disks. So ultimately, Webaroo will be selling smaller and smaller chunks of the Internet (as wi-fi and WiMax become more ubiquitous).

Good luck with this venture Mr. Husick – I have a feeling you are going to need it.

UPDATE: Tom informs me in the comments that this service won’t be sold – rather Webaroo will be giving it away. I would still have an issue with a company which intended to copy my site and make money from ad revenue generated by my content.

Fon Review

I have been using a Fon router now for over a month. In case you are not aware of Fon – Fon is a company which promotes the sharing of wireless broadband. So, if you have internet access, you can buy a Fon router (for 25usd/eur) at the moment on the Fon site, when you register the router with Fon, you can use that username and password to get Internet access from any Fon router anywhere in the world (and conversely, anyone with a Fon account can get Internet access from your Fon router if they are in your area). Fon has received funding from Google and Skype.

Sound like a good idea? – it is, especially if you travel a lot – or rather, it would be apart from a couple of wrinkles.

When I received my Fon router, there were no instructions with it, no manual, nothing (so no rtfm!). Never fear, said I, I’m a tecchie, how hard can it be? Hah! Three hours later, having spoken to Fon tech support in Spain, I managed to get it up and running. Seemingly, you need to try to register with Fon within 5 minutes of booting up your router, or you don’t get an option to do so until the next router re-boot! This 5 minute thing isn’t mentioned anywhere in their online Fon router registration instructions.

The next wrinkle is that, unless you are travelling to Spain or the US, it is not possible to know where you can find Fon access points. This kind of defeats the purpose of the service! Fon have a page on their site listing about 50 countries, including Ireland, but only the US and Spain are links to maps showing Fon access points in those countries. If I travel to Dublin or London or any place outside of Spain or the US, I can’t take advantage of my Fon account.

One really annoying wrinkle, for me at least, is that every time my computer wakes from sleep, I am blocked from accessing the Internet, until I login to the Fon network again. Logging onto the Fon network is a straightforward enough process, you open a browser window, you are re-directed to the login screen, you login and your Internet access resumes. However, in my case, I have Firefox’s home page set to be a number sites which I visit regularly opening in tabs. If I launch Firefox, after having been logged out of the Fon network, all those tabs open re-directed to the Fon login page – not to the pages I want to have appear.

Worse is that, when you do login, you are not re-directed back to the page you were re-directed from. Instead, you are dropped on a Fon page.

If you think these things are likely to annoy you (and don’t underestimate annoyance factor of having to logon to the Fon network every time your computer wakes up), I’d advise you steer clear of Fon until these wrinkles are ironed out.

[Disclosure – I was given a Fon router by Fon. There were no conditions attached when I was given the router – it was “just try it out and see what you think”]