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#19870 - 12/30/11 11:48 AM Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned?
Bensheim Offline


Registered: 08/16/09
Loc: UK
On another Mac, I went to Dashboard today and noticed that I have a widget which shows all wireless routers in the vicinity. I don't even remember downloading that - it must have been in the first burst of enthusiasm when that Mac was brand new.

As I watched, it came up with 5 or 6 other wireless routers, all a telecoms provider, then mine, Netgear.

Some of the other routers were Padlocked. Mine is not.

1. AFAI can recall, I changed the default admin password for my router to a long string of upper+lower case characters and non alphabetic characters too. I seem to remember being very pleased about this personal (to me) string.

2. I live in a very rural area; not a big city.

3. Most importantly: I am exceedingly reluctant to change any of my router settings. This router connects all 4 Macs + printer together, and (obviously) is our collective way out to the internet.

4. It's just paranoia, yes? Just because I happened to see on the widget that this router is not padlocked. What's the worst that can happen, leaving it like that?


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#19871 - 12/30/11 12:54 PM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: Bensheim]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: Bensheim
On another Mac, I went to Dashboard today and noticed that I have a widget which shows all wireless routers in the vicinity. I don't even remember downloading that - it must have been in the first burst of enthusiasm when that Mac was brand new.

As I watched, it came up with 5 or 6 other wireless routers, all a telecoms provider, then mine, Netgear.

Some of the other routers were Padlocked. Mine is not.

First be sure the unknown widget is giving you correct information. Go to System Preferences > Network and in the left hand pane of the Network window select Wi-Fi, then click on the Advanced button near the bottom right of that window. The at the top of the Wi-Fi window select the Wi-Fi tab. this will reveal a list of Preferred Networks and what security, such as WPA2, WPA2 Personal, or WEP is enabled on each. If your network is not secure this will tell you and if it is it will tell you what specific security algorithm is in use on your network. If you are curious about what all these mean, check this Wikipedia article for more information.

An aside: While you are in the Network preferences pane near the bottom center of the window is a checkbox labeled Show Wi-Fi status in menu bar. If this box is checked on the menu bar at the top of your screen toward the right hand side the network icon — a series of radiating arcs — will appear. Clicking on this icon will show essentially the same information as the widget.

Originally Posted By: Bensheim
1. AFAI can recall, I changed the default admin password for my router to a long string of upper+lower case characters and non alphabetic characters too. I seem to remember being very pleased about this personal (to me) string.

You answered your own question. "I changed the default admin password for my router" which is exactly that, the admin password for your router. This is the password that allows you to access the router itself to do things like configure the network including setting the security type and establishing the network password.

Originally Posted By: Bensheim
2. I live in a very rural area; not a big city.

Your definition of rural is different from mine if you are within range of that many Wi-Fi networks. grin

Originally Posted By: Bensheim
3. Most importantly: I am exceedingly reluctant to change any of my router settings. This router connects all 4 Macs + printer together, and (obviously) is our collective way out to the internet.

4. It's just paranoia, yes? Just because I happened to see on the widget that this router is not padlocked. What's the worst that can happen, leaving it like that?

IMO it is not just paranoia.
  • At the very least you are subject to anyone and everyone in the vicinity stealing network bandwidth. That may not seem like much, but it can slow down your network response time and if the ISPs on your side of the pond are anything like some of those in this country, enough stolen bandwidth could result in the ISP electing to "throttle" or slow down your bandwidth.
  • A nefarious person could potentially attach to your open network and use your internet connection to distribute malware, spam, or porn without your knowledge. On this side of the pond that could result in your computers being confiscated and held as evidence until it is proven the bandwidth theif was the culprit
  • If your network is open it becomes much easier for melefactors to get into your network and hack into your computers for ilicit purposes — or just for the sport of proving they can do it.

You will have to configure your router to establish a secure network and give the network a password. Then you will have to use that password to log into the network from all four of your computers. Both are essentially a one time operation because your computers will store the password in Keychain and automatically use it to logon to the network in the future.
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#19872 - 12/30/11 01:16 PM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
It sounds like Bensheim has got his router p/w protected his but not his network?
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#19873 - 12/30/11 02:26 PM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: artie505]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Yep. That's exactly what it sounds like.

There are two completely different and unrelated passwords associated with a router: the password you need to change the router settings, and the password (optional) that you need in order to connect to the router and use the Internet. By changing the router password, you prevent other people from changing the router's settings. By creating a WPA password, you prevent other people from using your Net connection without a password.
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#19874 - 12/30/11 02:36 PM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: tacit]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Precisely... When you set up an AirPort Base Station with AirPort Utility it's made abundantly clear that there are two separate p/w's with differing functionalities, but I've got zero familiarity with the Netgear setup procedure, so I don't know how obvious a setting Bensheim missed.
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The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#19877 - 12/31/11 07:52 AM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: artie505]
Bensheim Offline


Registered: 08/16/09
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: artie505
Precisely... When you set up an AirPort Base Station with AirPort Utility it's made abundantly clear that there are two separate p/w's with differing functionalities, but I've got zero familiarity with the Netgear setup procedure, so I don't know how obvious a setting Bensheim missed.


It's this widget: http://www.pimley.net/projects/#airlock

It came from here: http://www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/top50/

Re: "when you set up an Airport base station with Airport utility.....", the Netgear router has a phone wire coming in and four Ethernet cables going out. Two of the Macs are Ethernet wired, also the printer. The other two Macs are wireless (connected).

I didn't need to set up an Airport base station etc., the Macs connected without any trouble as in (finding network....). At no point have I ever been asked to set a password.

That's all been the case for years - through several generations of Macs and through more than one Netgear router.

Hence my wondering how people DO set password protection, since at no point have I ever been asked for it.

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#19878 - 12/31/11 07:57 AM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: joemikeb]
Bensheim Offline


Registered: 08/16/09
Loc: UK
Joe, re: "Go to System Preferences > Network and in the left hand pane of the Network window select Wi-Fi, then click on the Advanced button near the bottom right of that window. The at the top of the Wi-Fi window select the Wi-Fi tab. this will reveal a list of Preferred Networks and what security, such as WPA2, WPA2 Personal, or WEP is enabled on each."

In the left hand pane there is Ethernet/connected and AirPort/connected. No Wi-Fi.

Under "advanced" there is a row of tabs:
TCP/IP, DNS, INS, 802.1X, Proxies, Ethernet

The same row of tabs appears whether I click on Ethernet or AirPort in the l/hand panel.

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#19879 - 12/31/11 08:55 AM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: Bensheim]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Bensheim


I didn't need to set up an Airport base station etc., the Macs connected without any trouble as in (finding network....). At no point have I ever been asked to set a password.

That's all been the case for years - through several generations of Macs and through more than one Netgear router.

Hence my wondering how people DO set password protection, since at no point have I ever been asked for it.


The usual way to set the network password is from within the router settings.

Use your router password that you talked about in your original post to log into your router (this usually means going to some site set up by the router manufacturer; I know it works that way with Netgear). After you log in you will find somewhere in that site is an option to set a network password and security type. The most common security types are WEP and WPA, with the latter preferred for its better security. However, I have found some devices can only handle WEP, so you may have to experiment.

This really is not as difficult or scary as it may seem, and as JoeMB pointed out above, you should do it even though you will have to (one time only) log all your devices back into the network with the new password. When you attempt to join your own network you will be prompted for the password, but after that it should automatically happen. From then on you will see the padlock on your network. smirk
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#19880 - 12/31/11 08:56 AM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: Bensheim]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Whether or not you would be asked to set up certain router security measures, it is ultimately incumbent upon you to make sure the required settings are entered if you want your network to be secure. It's unfortunate that the router instructions may not have made that clear. At this moment it looks like you've left your WiFi network without password protection, and the fix should be straightforward: turn it on.

The details of this depend on your router model (it looks like it's a modem/router combo device). If you care to provide the model number, we could find the current manual online and figure the steps needed to get that WiFi protection up and running. Meanwhile, you could check out your router's web access page and see if there's a tab for WiFi/Security, which is where you enter or change the relevant settings including a password. Note that there also is a router access password (usually on the 'Admin' setup page) in addition to your ISP's internet access password (usually on the 'Basic' setup page).

As to Joe mentioning 'WiFi', substitute that with 'Airport and see if that makes more sense (he may have given the description off the top of his head, or it differs in his OS version). BTW, you don't really need that Airlock widget: clicking on the Airport icon in the menu bar provides basically the same information. Particularly if you've got several WiFi base stations, or are extending your WiFi network to cover your entire premises, it's good to know that Option-clicking on that icon will give you the MAC ID of the device/access point you're currently connected to (dimmed text).


Edited by alternaut (12/31/11 09:12 AM)
Edit Reason: added link
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#19881 - 12/31/11 09:11 AM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: Bensheim]
MacManiac Online

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Paradise....on the central Ore...
Hi Bensheim,

You can download a PDF of your router's User Guide from the Netgear Support downloads area.....

What you will need is the IP address of your router (which you can read from within your own Mac at the System Preferences / Network prefpane --- it's listed when you highlight the Airport network, the one with the green dot beside it, then click on the Advanced button down at the right hand lower corner to bring up your network settings, then click on the TCP/IP tab at the top to show the IP address for your router).....

If you were to simply send your Safari browser to that IP address, it would take you directly into the control pages embedded within your router.....this is where you would need your changed password to log in. In the event that the password and user ID remained at their defaults, the login would use the information found HERE.....

Once logged into the embedded control pages, you should then be able to change the Wireless security to enable encryption.....my recommendation would be WPA and then make a user-friendly passphrase that you can recall easily (14 characters in length is best, and it should contain letters, numbers, punctuation and capitalization so that it is more secure)......a good example that meets this set of constrictions, yet remains easily remembered, would be something like ----Bern!e&A1ici@2 ---- using ! to substitute for 'i' and the numeral 1 to substitute for the lower case 'L' and the @ symbol to substitute for the lower case 'a' in the names "Bernie" and "Alicia"......

Hope all this doesn't provide sensory overload, as the process of encrypting your wireless network is really straight forward at the root of it all.
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#19884 - 12/31/11 01:21 PM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: Bensheim]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
With AirPort selected, don't you have an AirPort tab to the left of the TCP/IP tab?
_________________________
The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#19886 - 12/31/11 01:37 PM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: Bensheim]
joemikeb Offline
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: Bensheim
In the left hand pane there is Ethernet/connected and AirPort/connected. No Wi-Fi.

The same row of tabs appears whether I click on Ethernet or AirPort in the l/hand panel.

Oops I forgot you are not running Lion. In Lion Airport has been changed to Wi-FI, apparently in deference to the almost universal use of the term Wi-Fi. Airport is the same thing. But you should still be able to find the same information. Are you doing this on one of the machines that is connected to the network via Wi-Fi (a.k.a. Airport)? Sorry I don't have a copy of Leopard or Snow Leopard here to check with.
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#21040 - 03/10/12 09:11 AM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: joemikeb]
Bensheim Offline


Registered: 08/16/09
Loc: UK
On a roll, having fixed the slow-printing problem earlier, I have now bitten the bullet and finally gotten around to locking our wireless network too. It was easier than I feared, and I only had to tell the wireless Macs the same thing. (The wired-in ones, I didn't, natch.)

Of all the wireless networks my Macs can detect out there, mine is the one with the strongest signal - by a factor of, er, double. And mine is the only router not supplied by the national telephone company. smile

Way to Go! One more pesky IT problem fixed, and I'll have a hat-trick!

WELL DONE BENSHEIM <---- I thought I'd put that in case no-one else does. wink

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#21042 - 03/10/12 09:16 AM Re: Wireless router padlock, should I be concerned? [Re: Bensheim]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: Bensheim
Of all the wireless networks my Macs can detect out there, mine is the one with the strongest signal - by a factor of, er, double. And mine is the only router not supplied by the national telephone company. smile

Not to burst your bubble, but that signal differential may be explained by the distance to the various access points. wink
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Moderator:  alternaut, dianne, MacManiac