Sending my broudband out for free

I have had my router set up for about 6 months. When I looked at it today I found out that my signal was not Encrypted .

I assume that means that any one within range can use my signal to surf the net?

Can they look in my computer?

Can I tell if anyone is using my signal?

I have a linksys wireless router. I have my xbox360 hooked up to it hardwired and my computer hardwired. I am only using wireless for my kids handheld videogames and I will be making a laptop purchase in the future and use it wirelessly.

I am a little confused how encryption works. If my handheld devices ask what encryption i am using and there are only 2 choices, cant someone just try both log on and and steal my signal?

Is there somesort of password option I can use?

long as it wasnt a network, and was just an internet router not just any old joe can look at your computer. Someone with hacking knowledge, programs could have intercepted some data that you might have sent over the internet. And yes they would have got free internet.

What you need is a wireless router with WPA-PSK capable encryption. My password for my internet router is 28 digits. Not exactly dead easy to hack. Also, its a hidden connection, makes it a tad harder for people to just connect.In fact in i dont have my password and choose what type of connection, i have to reset my router lol. So, good enuf for me.

Not sure how you will set the connection to be encrypted and still let the xbox and other devices connect. You’ll have to configure them to connect with the password etc. It might be easy for you, but it sure as hell got on my nerves a few times and that was just setting two computers up with the same configuration with the encryption etc.

you need to elaborate, what choices does it give you, how about a screen shot>?

The older encryption is WEP, though these days, WEP is merely a deterrent, as the encryption can be cracked within practical time limits.

WPA is the newer encryption, though older equipment may not support it, so if WEP is the lowest common denominator, so be it. WEP will deter 100% any accidental or “casual” Wifi-tappers, but will not withstand a determined attempt - think of it as padlock, and the tools available as a hacksaw - they’ll cut through it eventually.

Jack Hass,

It is advisable to disable the SSID broadcast in you Linksys router.

In theory yes, but in practice it might make a Windows pc lose connectivity quite frequently, so if that happens I suggest you turn SSID broadcast back on.

If you’re running with SSID broadcast off, someone running the right tool will be able to detect your SSID anyway given time, and if you are running with encryption then having SSID broadcast disabled only adds marginal security (by obscurity) to the setup.

Jack, I have no idea whether WEP or WPA-PSK are supported in the handheld videogames you mention, so I can’t tell you whether its possible to enable encryption or not.

Everyone is talking over my head.

both my handhelds support WEP and WPA. I am a little confused how encryption works. If I use WPA encryption, and my neighbor, on his handheld, searches to find a signal, finds mine and picks WPA encryption, when the hand held asks about encryption, he will be able to use my signal right?

I don’t know if I am using SSID or what it is.

If I don’t change anything can people get into my computer?
How can I tell if someone is using my signal?

WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) uses keys of up to 128 bits in length (256 bits on some equipment), and there are 4 WEP keys that can be configured. The wireless access point and all clients are configured to use one of the 4 keys, and it must match exactly with the corresponding key at the other end.

So any client that wants to access the WEP encrypted wireless network must be configured with the right WEP key(s), either by someone knowing the right key(s) or by someone using hacking techniques to discover the keys by “sniffing” the network for a long time and using the right cracking tools.

WEP is no longer considered safe for business use.

The newer encryption protocol is WPA (WiFi Protected Access) which improves on WEP by using WEP encryption with dynamic keys that change frequently. WPA uses a 256 bit key that is usually “pre-shared” by the access point and clients (i.e. manually configured) - this is known as WPA-PSK (Pre-Shared Key). The WPA-PSK is usually configured as a passphrase which can be thought of as a very long password.

Any client that wants to connect to a wireless network protected by WPA encryption must be configured with the right WPA key or passphrase by someone knowing the right key/passphrase. WPA is currently considered safe and is not known to have been compromised yet.

I don’t know if I am using SSID or what it is.
SSID: Service Set IDentifier

This is the common network name shared by the wireless access point in your broadband router and all clients connecting to it via wireless. The SSID in the client and the access point have to match or there will be no connection.

By turning off SSID broadcasting on your broadband router, the wireless network becomes hidden so that it doesn’t show up in “available networks” lists on the wireless clients, and anyone who wants to connect to the “hidden” network has to manually configure the client with the appropriate SSID by knowing or guessing it.

If you don’t change anything about your current setup, anyone within range of your wireless network can deliberately or accidentally connect to the Internet using your broadband access. Anyone who wants to “listen” to the wireless traffic can do so easily - they will have access to all data sent between your wireless clients and any other device or computer in your network and on the Internet (except data encrypted in some other way e.g. by HTTPS). They will also be able to attempt to connect to your pc, so unless your pc is protected by properly configured firewall software, your pc will be vulnerable to deliberate attacks.

If I don’t change anything can people get into my computer?
Running with an unencrypted wireless network is much like having a house with no curtains (anyone who wants to can see what you’re doing) and with no locks on the front door (anyone can enter if they want to) - it’s possible that nothing bad will happen, but do you want to take the chance?

How can I tell if someone is using my signal?

There might be a log feature in your broadband router that can show things like a client connecting to the wireless network. Perhaps it shows the client computer name, or perhaps only the MAC (hardware) address of the clients wireless network card.

There might also be a status page for the wireless network showing clients currently connected.