Monday, June 05, 2006

The No Internet Connection Blues

Assuming anyone actually reads this blog, you'll have noticed a distinct drop in the frequency of my updates since this weekend. This is because my DSL connection is down. Yippie.

In an effort to not be without internet, I've tried finding open wireless APs around me, tried my hand at WEP cracking, and even going so far as to hobble together the worst wireless antenna setup ever. What do I get out of it? 20% packet loss.

The fruits of my labor shall be for naught, however. In the course of my desperate attempts to create an internet connection, I have learned much (among failing much). I shall impart such knowledge unto thee.

Wireless AP Searching/WEP Cracking
Perhaps one of mankind's greatest inventions was the Linux Live CD, specifically the Auditor Security Collection. This nify Live CD has just about any network testing program you can think of, both wired and wireless. Using a guide found at, I learned how to use Kismet. I did not get to actually crack a WEP key as the one wireless network that had clients connected...I already knew the WEP for.

Overall though, the guide is very in-depth and well written. It oulines how to run the software, what some of the things mean, and the third part of the tutorial even shows how to secure yourself against such hacks. It's amazing what a 13db panel antenna and a 200mw card will pick up. If you live in a fairly populated area, it might be worth a shot to check out what wireless packets are floating around.

Please keep in mind you will need a Prism-based chipset in your wireless card. I did everything with a Senao NL-2511CD EXT2(F200)CY card ripped from a dead Engenius (Senao) bridge. From what I understand the cards themselves can be kind of hard to come by, so check on eBay for them. (As a side note, you can use those cards in a WET11 v1 box. Strangely, I got a few more DB doing this than compared to a regular Engenius bridge, but it may just be coincidence).

The Live CD is worth checking out, especially if you have a Prism-based card. The only thing wrong in the above tutorial is a command that was left out - to turn on 'Monitor' mode fot he NL-2511CD EXT2 cards (which the tutorial recommends), you have to run the following command before trying out airodump:

monitor.wlan [card id] [channel]

My Crappy Wireless Connection Setup
After my failed attempts at finding an open AP, I resorted to using my work's wireless towers. I have no line of sight, the Frankenbridge (Senao card inside a WET11 box), and two antennas - a 13db, and an 18db panel. Strangely the 18db panel is no better than the 13db, so I decided to not use it. Since work has access to lots of wireless equipment, I am now connected to the tower using a 13db panel, plugged into a 500mW amp (12db gain), plugged into a spare Engenius (~10db gain), netting me a total of 12db. So, doing the math, with just an unamped bridge I'm at...-23db signal. That's awesome.

And to top it all off, I have to mount the antenna in the bedroom window (ie: it's sitting on top of the bottom window pane beind held by only the blinds), not the office. So I've got my wireless router in the bedroom plugged into the bridge, and then the Frankenbridge in the office pulling the signal in that way. Because the Senao card has no real antenna and the jumper from the box I ripped it from is cracked, I've got even more loss in the office!

I miss my DSL...

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