My wireless insecurity

I have a confession to make: it's 2007 and I still haven't set up any encryption on my wireless router. <Wince>

I know I should. I've known I should since I bought the thing two years ago. Every now and then I think I'll set it up, but then I just never get around to it. There just never seems to be a good time. However, as recent events have shown, even the best of us can have security problems, so it's time for me to get my butt in gear.

The real problem is two-fold. First, I'm a programmer, not a network admin. I know the basics of how networking works, and I can set up a basic home LAN without any problems, but I'm hardly an expert. I also know very little about WiFi, so I don't exactly have a lot of confidence that I'll get it right the first time.

This is a problem because I'm married to a lovely woman with absolutely no interest in geeky computer stuff. She also has a very low tolerance for things being temporarily broken. This goes double for "the internet," since web browsing and e-mail are 90% of what she does. This means that my only window of opportunity to mess with our LAN is when she isn't home. However, I usually have other chores to do at those times, so it never gets to the top of the priority list.

The second problem is technical. I wanted to set up encryption when I first installed my wireless hardware. However, the WiFi cards in my desktops are RaLink 2500 chipsets, and at the time, the drivers had only recently been open-sourced. The upshot is that I started out using beta releases of the community-supported driver and I was lucky to get it working at all. Encryption isn't a high priority when the network interface is just barely functional.

On top of the driver, both the router and my software were little help. My router is a D-Link DI-524 C1, which only included WPA-PSK support in a firmware upgrade (I'll be damned if I'm going to set up a Radius server) and included little to no documentation on it. And at the time I was using Slackware 10 and Xandros 3, neither of which had much in the way of helpful wireless configuration tools. So setting it up would have been a command-line, /etc/*, and vi hackathon of the type for which I have long since lost my enthusiasm

Today, however, I'm using Kubuntu 7.04. It includes a nice, stable RaLink driver and the KNetworkManager utility, which allows you to easily connect to any number of wireless networks. I essentially have no excuse anymore.

So, tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to give it a try. I've already downloaded the latest firmware upgrade from D-Link in preparation. I'll just need to dig out my 25-foot network cable, wire up one of my computers, and go to work. With any luck, it will go smoothly and I'll be done in half an hour. If I'm not so lucky...I may still be running an open network next week.

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