Wireless Home Network.... Free Internet for Neighbors?

I have a wireless network at home so that I can share my broadband internet between my desktop and Laptop computers. I recently bought a new Desktop and in order to put that computer also on the network, I bought a USB device (small Transceiver) which enables this new desktop to get on to that network. I didn`t even modify any network settings and my new computer got on to the network!! My concerns now are, had my neighbor (houses are pretty closeby here!!) also bought the same USB device, would he have accessed my internet for free??
Is there any way I can prevent this??? :-s

Your neighbours may very well be able to get free internet through you.

That is why you must specify a unique SSID for your network and make sure you have WEP enabled. These are all things you should be able to configure on your router.

Of course, your neighbour would have to first figure out the name of your network, and then trawl through the channels til he/she found the correct one…

You can also filter by mac address.

A friend of mine had a wireless network set up in her home. There were several rooms and an outdoor patio between a desktop and laptop. The network had a difficult time maintaining the connection from one end of the house to the other. Most web pages would time out trying to load. If you wanted to do anything much on the laptop, you had to move it closer to the base.

Therefore, I’d venture to guess that even if your neighbors knew you were wireless and could access your connection, it wouldn’t be reliable enough to make it worthwhile.

Perhaps, but only if your neighbor is unfamiliar with the concept of a larger antenna.

If you are concerned about this you should set up WEP and turn off SSID broadcast. If you are really really concerned about this you should change you WEP keys often.

And if you’re really, really, really concerned, you’ll VPN into the thing, as WEP is crackable, though it does take a bit of effort.

Trivial. When we popped a wireless card into a laptop here, the XP wizard popped up and asked which of the three available nets I wanted to use. Just for fun, I tried one of the others, and was right in. The perils of no WEP or WPA (new standard that replaces WEP) and an open SSID.

This is a problem that the experts call “Hot Spots”, especially in urban areas. It is not unheardof for a person to set up a wireless network in an apartment building, and then all of their neighbors get free internet access, and/or access to each others’ computers, with or without the originator’s permission. The common question the originator has is, “Why is my bandwidth barely at 12K?” That’s because you have several people tapping into the same source. Your wireless modem is the bottleneck.

I don’t have the cite with me, but there was an article not too long ago in a tech magazine that talked about this “problem”. Some unnamed companies who wanted to put a stop to this practice actually had their Techies driving around New York in SUVs with laptops scanning all possible combinations, looking for these Hot Spots. They were calling it “Drive By Hacking”.

That’s why, and I don’t care how secure a wireless network is, I will never install one in my house. I am currently running the wires for an RJ45 based LAN throughout my house, as a matter of fact.

I also refuse to install wireless networks for my customers. They hear the term “wireless network” and their eyes light up. “That’s hip. That’s cutting edge. I can answer my email while on the toilet.” When I disappoint them, and they ask me why, I tell them that the connections are sometimes iffy at best, and it is an incredible security breach.

That’s wardriving to you, fella.

For about a month after installing our own wireless network, I was perplexed by the signal strength dropping to very low levels. Turns out a Chicago public school (a good 150-200 feet away from us) has a wireless network installed and my laptop card was autodetecting this network and switching to it. This network was intentionally set up to not be secure so as not to require all the kids to have logins/passwords, and all I could access was the internet. But if I can get the schools network from 200 feet and also get my own network out in the garage, you can be certain that your neighbor can probably get a signal as well (assuming urban/suburban housing densities).

So be certain to enable WEP on your network!