WEP / WPA problems

Hello, everyone. This is my first time in a forum. The reason I'm here is due to a rather heated discussion I had this evening with my teenage son. I just purchased a new Dell desktop and was configuring the Netgear router. I have learned that WPA is more secure than WEP, so that's what I set it for. My son informed me that the last time I did this, it ruined his gaming experience on his Alien gaming computer (both computers run XP Home, SP2). He says that even having it on WEP slows and even halts some of his games and causes "problems" with his computer. He claims that no one can tap into our computers since they don't have the password to the router, adding that they haven't been able to hack into our computers in the two years that we've had no secure encryption. And even if they did, they couldn't get into his computer (he said my computer, which is directly connected to the internet, would be safe). He showed me the routers in the area that we can tap into and noted that we can't get into their computers. Please help. If I truly need WPA, how can I configure it so that it won't cause problems on my son's computer? Somehow, I think he's wrong about people not being able to hack into our computers. I know a lot about computers, can take them apart, etc., but wireless issues are rather foreign to me. Thanks for any help you can provide. I'll eat dirt if I'm wrong! I do tend to be overcautious. :confused:

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NancyB hath wroth:

With teenagers, it's either dead silence, or a heated discussion. Nothing in between. He's normal.

Model numbers? Operating system?

Check the Netgear site for firmware updates to the router.

Close. WEP is a giant gapeing security hole that is completely useless for protecting a wireless network. WPA is still quite safe.

WEP and WPA encryption will slow down a wireless connection about

10-15% as compared to unencrypted. Most users don't even notice it. I get that much variation in test results when I run benchmarks. Point him to Iperf:

and have him supply numbers for with and without encryption. If there's a huge difference, something else might be happening. Out of date firmware on the router could easily be a problem.

Wrong. That will only stop someone from reconfiguring the router. It will not stop someone from using the wireless to connect to your network, and eventually dive into his computer. If he has a personal firewall running on his XP machine, then he's probably fairly safe. However, my experience with gamers is that he's probably got a dozen "holes" (IP ports that are forwarded) in his Windoze Firewall in order to make this or that game work. If he's a speed freak, he probably has the firewall disabled as that also eats a few CPU cycles.

The issue is really why anyone would want to attack his computer or your network. The reason he hasn't been broken into is that there's nothing worth stealing on his machine. Also, most of the wireless "tourists" aren't really interested in breaking into his machine. They just want free internet access and want to use your wireless to get to the internet. There's nothing wrong with that but it does carry a risk. If they have a machine that's infected with a virus or worm, you risk getting your machines infected, or the wrath of the ISP for excessive traffic or becoming a source of spam. At the very least, you should know who is borrowing your internet connection. In your case, the security should not necessarily be to keep the evil bad guys (like me) out of your system, but rather to make sure it doesn't get abused.

Not directly. Both your machines should be connected through the router. Directly connected implies no router. Hopefully, that's not the case.

If they're running a personal firewall, that's true. However, simply trying to test for open shares is not my idea of a proper security test. There are exploits ranging from denial of service, crashing the target computer, and sniffing traffic, that can be a problem without getting access.

Dunno. If WPA really does slow things down, there's something broken or misconfigured. I can't tell from here or without lots of details. Incidentally, most teenagers are into file sharing, which turns his machine into a server. They tend to forget about this and wonder why their machine is running slow. If he's going to complain about speed, make sure he's got all his "servers" turned off when testing.

No, he's close but for the wrong reason. Simple security measures will stop most of the casual tourists and hackers. However, once anyone can connect to your inside LAN (thus bypassing the firewall in the router), there are quite a number of things that can be done. It's best to keep unwanted users out of your network through proper encryption, than to risk a suprise.

Wireless is encapsulated ethernet. Anything you can do on an ethernet switch or hub, you can do with wireless. You wouldn't want strangers plugging into your ethernet switch. I see no reason to do the same via wireless.

Evaluate the risks. There are plenty of wide open home systems where nothing overt ever happens. It really depends on the neighborhood, neighbors, and how well you have the machines secured. I run a neighborhood LAN with a mess of users borrowing the bandwidth. It's not a problem because I monitor the traffic and limit access to those users and machines that I know about. I tried it with a wide open system for a few days and was blessed with a neighbor that just couldn't keep the worms and viruses off his laptop.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

My dad used to say - send your teenagers out into the business world while they still know everything and can make a fortune for you.

I can't add anything technical to what Jeff has posted, just some experience. My approach with teenagers (grandchildren now) is to avoid any confrontation on techincal grounds. Therefore I would simply put on the WPA2 and tell him that if it is a problem to him, he can run some RJ45 cable to his computer. End of discussion.


Reply to
Stuart Miller

Chuckle. They're more likely to lose a fortune for you, but that's all part of getting experience. When I was an aspiring juvenile delinquent, I would work at my fathers lingerie factory. I had no idea what I could or couldn't do, so I just did everything. One thing I learned was to quickly (and quietly) recover from my mistakes and from minor disasters. Basic skills such as how to clean up 50 gallons of machine oil I dumped on the shop floor, came quickly. Plugging the hole I had blown in the elevator hydraulics tank (with a Ramset gun) was also quickly learned. I don't think I made my father a fortune, but I certainly didn't cost him one either.

May I suggest you reconsider your advice?

I don't have any children or grandchildren (than I know about), so I don't have the benifit of testing the following. However, when I was younger, my father and other relatives would constantly challenge me on technical grounds. When I didn't understand something or when the explanation was over my head, we dragged out the Encyclopedia Britannica or other reference books and did the necessary reading. When I eventually proved my father wrong on some obscure topic, it was as if I had won the Nobel prize.

In this case, the question is why is WEP and/or WPA so much slower than unencrypted. Never mind the stopwatch timing and guesswork. Tell the kid to put some numbers and measurements behind his claims and to draw his conclusions only on test results, not unsubstantiated claims. That's what my parents and relatives did with me and I can honestly say it mostly worked.

I also had to think twice before asking for something. When I wanted my bicycle replaced after a crunch, I was handed an oxy-acetylene torch, helmet, glasses, gloves, rod, and some practice scrap metal. I think I was the only 13 year old in my class that could braze fairly well. When I blew up my mothers car (by driving 8000 miles without changing the oil), I was presented with the car and told to rebuild the engine if I wanted something to drive. Same with everything else I destroyed growing up. Repair first, then replace, an important lesson.

Incidentally, that's also where I learned the difference between attacking the technical merits or the person whom I was in disagreement. There's a huge difference here, which is often not obvious to the typical teenager.

Anyway, if the kid ends up running his own CAT5 cable, have him do his own connector crimps and wiring. It will probably need to be redone perhaps 3 times, but in the end, he'll have picked up a useful skill.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

Good suggestion. It was a rather poor choice of words. I welcome a technical discussion or disagreement, in this case I was referring to real 'argument' stage with the 'entrenched' teenage mind which sometimes refuses to accept reason. "my mind is made up, don't both me with the facts'.

Agreed, and when he is proven wrong or refuses to do the homework or just argues, then switch to 'beacuse I'm the dad (and pay the bills) - when you are the dad you can do it your way'

...or fanatic or troll

Reply to
Stuart Miller

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