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Solved: Deeply eccentric home network behaviour...

Discussion in 'Networking' started by zeroplusalpha, Oct 31, 2007.

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  1. zeroplusalpha

    zeroplusalpha Thread Starter

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    A tentative 'Hello World' - please bear with me, I'm kind of new at this...

    I've recently set up a wireless network at home - Netgear WirelessG router, one laptop running Windows Vista, one Dell desktop running xp service pack 2. The USB adapter that came with the router is attached to the desktop, and the laptop already has one built in, but it's the laptop that's exhibiting some very strange behaviour.

    After making sure the net connection was running fine, I locked the network down with MAC filtering, SSID broadcast disabling, and enabling WPA encryption. However, whilst scanning for available wireless networks, the laptop found TWO Unnamed Networks at full strength, the signals for which could have ONLY originated from the installed router as the laptop couldn't find them when the router was turned off. The strange thing was they appeared to be under different kinds of encryption (WEP and WPA respectively), even though I'm pretty sure they're actually the same network (ie the one installed in the house). The laptop could go on the one under WPA encryption, but sometimes (and ONLY sometimes) was restricted to Local Access.

    I did a few other tests by changing the router settings online from the desktop (which I'll omit for the sake of brevity), which sometimes resulted in the laptop being connected to Network Name (Network Name...) or New Network (Old Network Name...).

    I'm really not sure what this is symptomatic of, but if anybody can shed any light on this, I would be really grateful. Details upon request...
     
  2. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    You secured your wireless network with WPA encryption, assuming a strong passphrase. Disabling SSID broadcast and using MAC address filtering does nothing for security but does make your network more difficult to use.

    Suggest that you enable SSID broadcast and disable MAC address filtering, and then describe whatever problem you have.
     
  3. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    I agree with Terry, my guess is you'll suddenly be able to connect again. :)
     
  4. zeroplusalpha

    zeroplusalpha Thread Starter

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    Thanks for the prompt reply.

    I was busking furiously, but I think I did in fact disable Access Control and MAC filtering as one of the tests - the broadcasting of the network as two separate ones was the thing that really confused me, and the problem appears be not so much no connectivity but limited connectivity.

    Having said that, it worked fine after a while. But sometimes it doesn't. And it's not at all clear what changed (if anything). E.g. There was one instance when I was physically next to laptop (which was being operated by my flatmate)...we tried to connect to the network, which resulted in being granted local access. Then we tried connecting again, after refreshing the Available Wireless Networks a couple of times, which yielded the dual network anomaly a couple of times, and this time it worked. After being questioned by aforementioned flatmated as to what 'I' changed, I reminded him that being able to log into the router settings by the power of mind alone was not one of my few skills...:confused:
     
  5. zeroplusalpha

    zeroplusalpha Thread Starter

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  6. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    We'd like to be sure before we chase phantoms. Also, MAC filtering and SSID hiding are not necessary with a strong WPA encryption key, and they'll only cause you more work.
     
  7. zeroplusalpha

    zeroplusalpha Thread Starter

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    Thanks.

    I can't really be sure of that, but I followed the advice I received and disabled the SSID broadcast and MAC filtering, and the problems have indeed disappeared - I only did that in the first place because a)Possibly I've read too many scaremongering articles in various magazines about wardriving b) Following up the advice given by a web developer friend

    As things seem to be functioning reasonably as far as the network is concerned, I am loth is press the issue, but I'd like to know if there may be loose threads I need to take care of in case this haunts me again.
     
  8. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Like I said, make SURE your WPA key is a strong key, random letters and numbers and at least 20 characters long. This will be, for all practical purposes, unbreakable. Only someone with vast computer resources and months or years of time could crack it, and that's not real likely. :)

    There's a lot of mis-information about various ways to protect your wireless network.

    A good read: The Six Dumbest Ways to Secure A Wireless LAN
     
  9. zeroplusalpha

    zeroplusalpha Thread Starter

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    Thanks for your time.

    I guess it was just one of those...things. Never happened again. Oh well, time to put this behind us and move on, I think.

    I'll read up on your suggestion.

    See you around.
     
  10. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    You can mark your own threads solved using the thread tools at the top of the page in the upper right corner.© :)
     
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