Thursday, August 11, 2005

Why my home network uses cables

Last year, on the advice of Jerry Pournelle, I installed a hardware router and started using that as a firewall. I chose to forego the convenience of wireless networking and run patch cable. (Home Depot sells vampire style connectors for making, among other things, wall sockets. They are very easy to use. Even I can wire a house for a network using them.)

Sure, smart people set their password protection on wireless networks. If they use a secure password, it'll take a long time to crack, and you won't have someone parked in front of your house for that long, cracking it.

Now it turns out a cracker may not need to be right outside the house.

At DefCon earlier this month, a group was able to set up an unamplified 802.11 network at a distance of 124.9 miles. <snip> Bad news for those of us who rely on physical distance to secure our wireless networks.

The upshot?

Whenever you hear a manufacturer talk about a distance limitation for any wireless technology -- wireless LANs, RFID, Bluetooth, anything -- assume he's wrong. If he's not wrong today, he will be in a couple of years. Assume that someone who spends some money and effort building more sensitive technology can do much better, and that it will take less money and effort over the years. Technology always gets better; it never gets worse. If something is difficult and expensive now, it will get easier and cheaper in the future.

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