Archive for the ‘Wireless Networking’ Category

Introducing Splunk: Funny name, serious logging

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

So, my boss says:

“Write an article called ‘Getting Started with Splunk.’”

I reply:

“What, you think I know all this stuff? This really would be a getting started article.”

But here it is and WOW is Splunk cool!

My only experience with Splunk up to a couple days ago was seeing a T-shirt with “Log is my copilot”. I knew it had something to do with gathering log files and making them easier to read and search. In about an hour I had gone to Splunk’s website to research the product, downloaded and installed it, and started viewing logs from my own system. The Splunk folks have made getting their product into their customer’s hands easy and getting started even easier.

What is Splunk?

Simply put, Splunk can gather just about any kind of data that goes into a log (system logs, website metrics, etc.) into one place and make viewing that data easy. It’s accessed via web browser so it’s accessible on any computer or mobile device such as an iPad.

What do I need to run Splunk?

Practically any common operating system today can run Splunk: Mac OS X, Linux, Windows, FreeBSD and more.

How much does Splunk cost?

Don’t worry about that right now. Download and install the free version. It takes minutes to install and is a no-brainer. Let’s get started.

Getting Splunk

IT managers and directors may be interested in watching the introductory and business case videos with the corporate speak (“operational intelligence” anyone?) and company endorsements. Techs will be interested in getting started. Right on their home page is a big green Free Download button. Go there, click it and locate the downloader for your OS of choice. I downloaded the Mac OS X 10.7 installer to test (and installed it on OS X 10.8 without any issues).

Splunk home

This does require a sign-up to create an account. It takes less than a minute to complete. After submitting the information the 100 MB download begins right away.

While waiting for the download…

When the download is on its way the Splunk folks kindly redirect to a page with some short videos to watch while waiting. Watch this first one called Getting data into Splunk. It’s only a few minutes and this is the first thing to do after getting into Splunk.

Installing and starting Splunk

The download arrives as a double-clickable Apple Installer package. Double-click and install it. Toward the end it opens a simple TextEdit window with instructions for how to start, stop and access the newly installed Splunk site.

Install done

Files are installed in /Applications/splunk and resemble a UNIX file system.

Splunk application folder

Open the Terminal application found in /Applications/Utilities and run the command /Applications/splunk/bin/splunk start. If this is the first time running Splunk it prompts to accept its license agreement. Tap the spacebar to scroll through and read the agreement or type “q” to quit and agree to the license.

EULA

Accepting the agreement continues to start Splunk where it displays some brief setup messages.

Starting Splunk

The setup then provides the local HTTP address for the newly installed Splunk site. Open this in a web browser to get to the login screen. The first login requires that the administrator account password be reset.

Splunk login

Following along with the Getting data into Splunk video, Splunk will need some information. Mac OS X stores its own log files. Let’s point to those.

Click the Add Data link to begin.

New Splunk home

Since Mac OS X’s log files are local to the machine, click A file or directory of files.

Add files

Click Next to specify local files.

Add local logs

This opens a window that exposes not only Mac OS X’s visible folders but its invisible folders as well. Browse to /var/log/system.log and click the Select button.

Browse logs folder

For now, opt to skip previewing the log file and click Continue.

Path to system.log

Now, let’s opt to monitor not only the system.log file but the entire /var/log folder containing dozens of other log files as well. Note that Splunk can watch rotated and zipped log files too. Click Save to finish adding logs.

Add /var/log folder

Let’s start searching!

Succes, start searching

The Search window initially displays a list of all logs Splunk is monitoring. To narrow the search change the time filter drop down menu to Last 60 minutes. This will make the results a little easier to see on a system that’s only been running a short while.

Last 24 hours

Now, search for install*. Splunk will only search for the word “install” without providing the asterisk as a wildcard character. Splunk supports not only wildcard searches but booleans, parentheses, quotes, etc. It will return every instance recorded in the logs that matches the search criteria. It also creates an interactive bar chart along the top of the page to indicate the number of occurrences found for the search at particular times.

Search for install

To further refine the search, Option+click most any word in the log entries below and Splunk will automatically add the necessary syntax to remove an item. In this case the install* search returned installinstaller and installd. Option+clicking installd changed the search criteria to install* NOT installd.

Modified search

Now what?

Continue exploring the videos to understand Splunk’s possibilities and take advantage of its Splunk Tutorial, which is available online as well as in PDF format for offline viewing. They do a great job leading users through setup and creating reports.

Still asking about price? Good.

The free version remains free but doesn’t include many features that really make it sing such as monitoring and alerts, multiple user accounts and support beyond the Splunk website. Cost depends primarily on the amount of data you want to suck into Splunk and have it watch. It’s not cheap but for an enterprise needing to meet certain service level requirements it beats browsing through multiple servers trying to find the right log with the right information.

FYI, putting together this 1,000-word article probably took me 10 times longer than performing the Splunk install itself and beginning to learn it. It’s really well-done and easy to use. Splunk makes getting started simple.

Voice Dictation on iPhone and iPad

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The iPhone has a built-in voice controls that allow you to speak to the phone and have it perform certain tasks, such as dial a given contact, go to the next track when playing music and even start playing music. This allows you to control the device, hands free and perform basic tasks. Have you ever wanted to use that same kind of technology to dictate emails, notes and write documents while on the go? Well, Dragon Dictation, from Nuance Communications has got ya’ covered!

Using Dragon Dictation, you can press a button and dictate text. You can then review and edit the text if needed. That text can then be emailed, posted to your wall on Facebook, posted to Twitter, sent as an SMS and yes, even copied to the clipboard. If you find yourself in any situation where you cannot use the keyboard for extended periods of time then Dragon Dictation is a must have! And you can’t beat the price; Dragon Dictation is currently free!

Dragon also has a product for Mac OS X, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and versions for Windows as well. You can also use the desktop applications to control the computer itself, allowing you to name it Jarvis, KITT, GERTY, HAL, Mother or just plain old Computer. If you link it up to automator or do a little scripting then you can even control other applications, allowing you to tell the computer to turn the lights on, make you coffee and even turn off those Christmas lights.

Bluetooth Modem Setup for PPC-6700 and Mac OS X

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

Here are the instructions on how to tether your Windows Mobile smartphone to a Mac OS X computer over Bluetooth

1. First, you will need to pair the handheld with the laptop. When doing this, select “Other Device” rather than a mobile phone. Make sure that when you’re setting up your mobile phone’s Bluetooth capabilities within Mac OS X you check “Access the Internet with your phone’s data connection.” If your phone is already paired and you initially forgot to select this option you can find it at System Preferences | Bluetooth | Devices [choose your device] | Configure.

2. Download the “Windows Mobile GSM.zip” archive of modem scripts (see the Documents tab for this KBASE article). You should probably try the 460k script first (which will handle most EDGE/3G phones), and if that doesn’t work, fall back to the other two.

3. Unpack the archive and place the scripts into /Library/Modem Scripts/.

4. Go to System Preferences | Network | Show: [Bluetooth]

5. Click on PPP Options and make sure that “Use TCP header compression” is unchecked. Click OK.

6. Click on Bluetooth Modem and choose the “Windows Mobile GSM 460k” script from the drop-down list (note the update in step 2; you may want to use one of the other scripts if this one does not perform well; a Sprint PCS Vision script is also included in Mac OS X).

7. Disable both “Enable error correction and compression in modem” and “Wait for dial tone before dialing.”

8. Click on PPP. Leave all fields blank except the Telephone Number field….

9. Enter #777 as the phone number.

10. Click Dial Now and then click Connect.

Using Apple AirPorts

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Intro
AirPort is a local area wireless networking system from Apple Computer based on the IEEE 802.11b (which runs at 11Mbps) standard (also known as Wi-Fi) and certified as compatible with other 802.11b devices. A later family of products based on the IEEE 802.11g (which runs at 54Mbps) specification is known as AirPort Extreme, offering speeds up to 54 megabits per second and interoperability with older (802.11b) products.
AirPort and AirPort Extreme in common usage can refer to the protocol (802.11b and 802.11g, respectively), the expansion card or the base station.
In Japan, AirPort is known as AirMac due to trademark conflicts.

When logging into a non-Mac machine into an airport runniwn WEP you will need to translate the WEP password into Hex. This can be achieved by clicking on the password icon in the menu bar.

Airport Interface
Airport express and Airport extreme have a firmware limitation that limits the amount of concurrent connected users. Airport Express is limited to 10 concurrent users and the Airport Extreme is limited to 50 users.

Select “Enable interference robustness” when the base station is in an environment with other 2.4 Ghz devices that can interfere with your network. Devices that can cause interference include cordless telephones, some television repeaters, and microwave ovens.

The GUI interface of Airport Admin only allows for 1 port at a time to be directed to an internal IP.

WAN
Airport uses WDS. A Wireless Distribution System is a system that enables the interconnection of access points wirelessly. As described in IEEE 802.11, it allows a wireless network to be expanded using multiple access points without the need for a wired backbone to link them. Base stations connected thru WDS cannot share their internet connection with other remote base stations. WDS can automatically be configured by the main base station as long as you have all of the airports with their default settings and default passwords. WDS lists are built and tracked using airport IDs.

All base stations in a Wireless Distribution System must be configured to use the same radio channel, and share WEP keys if they are used. They can be configured to different service set identifiers. Since WDS needs all wireless stations to be on the same channel, changing the channel will break WDS.

LAN
PPPoE, Static IP, DHCP, WDS are all types of internet connections. PPTP is a VPN protocol. A virtual private network (VPN) is a private communications network often used within a company, or by several companies or organizations, to communicate confidentially over a publicly accessible network. VPN message traffic can be carried over a public networking infrastructure (e.g. the Internet) on top of standard protocols, or over a service provider’s private network with a defined Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the VPN customer and the VPN service provider.

PPPoE only requires Account name and User Password for a connection. PPPoE is primarily a DSL type of connection is used to only provide authorized access to the internet connection.

Which is NOT an option for the LAN Addressing when setting up DHCP Ranges?
There are three classes of internal IP addresses. A,B,C. Class A has range of 10.0.0.1 – 10.255.255.255 with a subnetmask of 255.0.0.0 which translates to about 16,777,215 addresses. Class B has a range of of 172.16.0.1 – 172.31.255.254 with a subnetmask of 255.255.0.0 which translates to about 1,048,576 addresses. Class C has a range of 192.168.0.1 – 192.168.255.254 which translates to about 65,536 addresses. Every address with a prefix with of 10., 172., or 192., is an internal IP.

DHCP needs to be turned on to be able to use the NAT feature. NAT might prevent users from printing to appletalk printers due to appletalk being an unroutable service. Distribute IP addresses needs to be uncheck if appletalk printing is needed.

Security
Using airports in conjunction with a RADIUS server allows for a stronger layer of authentication. Remote Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS) is an AAA (authentication, authorization and accounting) protocol for applications such as network access or IP mobility. It is intended to work in both local and roaming situations

A SSID is visible by default. By checking the “Create a Closed Network” button you will be hiding the SSID. In order to connect to a hidden SSID network, you must select “other” from the airport dropdown menu.

Access control feature on the Airport is used to allow only authorized MAC addresses wirelessly access to the Airport. This feature does not support access control on the wired interface. This is not very secure since there are ways to spoof MAC addresses. Airport allows for exporting of the list for backup purposes or for importing to another base station.

Features
As a feature Airport offers parental controls for AOL as long as the AOL client is installed and configured properly.

DMZ is available on the airport by selecting the “Enable Default Host at” check box in the base station options.

Updating the firmware is simple and easy. If the interface prompts you for a firmware upgrade, simply hit the upload button to upgrade the firmware.

When sharing printers on an airport or airport express use the bonjour protocol to setup the printers.

Data Loss

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

We’ve attended plenty of events that preach the importance of backup, but rarely is it approached from what is essentially at the heart of data protection – data recovery. For example, did you know that DLT tapes (still the media of choice across the board) are designed to be overwritten only 5 times? According to our valued partners at SonicWALL, Inc., administrators report that they use DLT tapes an average of 12 times. Also, something like 73% of the backed up data surveyed, was unrecoverable!!! Point being, a backup is only as secure as its recovery plan.

The recommendation here is to run periodic recovery drills to test the viability of the data protection scheme. Taking SonicWall’s lead, we here at 318, Inc. would like to begin a vigorous push with all our clients towards increasing the awareness of the importance of data recovery. Another tidbit: 93% of companies that had suffered a major loss of data, were out of business within one year. Far too many systems administrators’ careers have ended abruptly due to recovery-plan negligence and we’ve all seen it happen… nuff said.

A few more interesting points on the subject of data loss (if data loss can be considered interesting…):

The speed of recovery is as important as anything else. The example was given of when, during the early days of eBay, their servers were brought down under attack and, though their data was safely backed up, it took 2.5 days to recover it. Million$ lost in revenue! Administrators should design a plan that includes rapid recovery of the most recent and most critical data, allowing the affected party(s) to resume their daily tasks while recovery of the older, less important files continue to restore.
People are, by far, the biggest challenge to security – eg. Passwords taped to monitor screens; using “password” as their password, etc. Only strict security company policies and education can combat this security leak. Even the most secure server in the world can be easily compromised by an employee walking through an airport with log-on credentials for that server, written with a Sharpie on the outside of their laptop case (it was an agent from the U.S. Homeland Security Department -true story – as the laptop came out of security’s X-ray scanner, it was mistakenly handed to the wrong person!).
Small to medium businesses are hit hardest by data loss. They usually have fewer resources to invest in protecting their data and are usually the ones least likely to appreciate the importance of a strong backup/recovery scheme.
Data protection is more important than ever now, considering that cyber-criminals are making approximately 6 times more money with far fewer expenditures than organized crime ever did, even in its hey day.
On the subject of data security, no discussion is complete without extensive planning for protecting the network that the data resides on. “Controlling the flow of data can be as difficult as herding cats.” For network security, 318, Inc. recommends the SonicWall TZ 170 firewall/router for most networks. We feel it’s important to understand some of the differences between using SonicWall’s firewall appliances and the limitations of other, “consumer level” products such as Linksys or D-link routers. From SonicWall.com:

SonicOS Standards, which ships on every SonicWALL TZ 170, includes:

Real-Time Gateway Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware and Intrusion Prevention. The TZ 170 extends security from the network core to the perimeter by integrating support for SonicWALL’s Gateway Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware and Intrusion Prevention Service, delivering real-time protection against the latest blended threats, including viruses, spyware, worms, Trojans, software vulnerabilities and other malicious code.
Powerful Content Filtering. The TZ 170 supports SonicWALL’s Content Filtering Service, providing an enterprise-class, scalable content filtering service that enhances productivity and security without requiring additional server or deployment costs.
Deep Packet Inspection Firewall. The TZ 170 features a configurable, high performance deep packet inspection firewall for extended protection to key Internet services such as Web, e-mail, file transfer, Windows services, and DNS.
WorkPort. The SonicWALL TZ 170 includes an optional port that can be configured as a WorkPort, creating an independent, isolated zone of trusted network security that protects corporate networks from malicious attacks that can occur when telecommuters share broadband Internet access with networked home computers.
Comprehensive Central Management Support. Every SonicWALL Internet security appliance can be managed using SonicWALL’s award-winning Global Management System, which provides network administrators with the tools for simplified configuration, enforcement and management of global security policies, VPN, and services, all from a central location.
More information about SonicWall’s products can be found at their website: http://www.sonicwall.com.

318, Inc. is a proud partner of SonicWall, and would appreciate the opportunity to perform a vulnerability assessment on your network in order to offer you some solid recommendations for protecting it.

Networking and Microsoft Windows

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Basics of using Windows on a Network:

The following will be based on a Windows 2000/XP/Media Center box.

Connecting a Windows box to a network using TCP/IP.
As a user with proper permissions (usually administrator, or a user with administrator permissions), open up network settings, determine which network card you want to use, and right mouse click on it.

After that, click on Properties. You may need to add TCP/IP under network settings. If this is already there, you should check the properties for TCP/IP for some things.

Checking properties under TCP/IP:
Once you click to view the properties of TCP/IP, you will see a tab for network, and WINS. Depending on the setup, you will probably want to leave the settings alone if there is already a DHCP and DNS server on the network. If not, this is where you would specify an IP address, Subnet, Gateway, DNS servers, and WINS server if applicable.

Connecting to a wired network
There are a couple of ways to connect to a wired network. You can have a DHCP server on the subnet, and if the jack you have connected to the same subnet, and Windows is set to Automatically Obtain and IP Address and DNS address, then it will automatically receive the proper information for an IP address, Subnet, DNS, and Gateway (as long as the DHCP server is setup correctly).

MSCONFIG
MSCONFIG is the command to bring up the GUI for the Microsoft Configuration Panel which will allow you to perform basic troubleshooting on the computer. You can select which items you want to startup in the background, and you can also select to have it startup in safe mode from MSCONFIG. It is often used when a bad program that runs in the background is installed, and you want to eliminate it from booting and starting with the user logging in.

Eliminating Spyware and Viruses.
Ideally, a client should have some sort of malware security suite that will monitor for and remove/quarantine any malware detected. It is important that if the client has the software, that the software be constantly updated. If the software is not updated, it is possible for a new exploit to harness a vulnerability to install malware. To remove malware, you should try scanning using free tools such has Panda Online, Adaware, Spybot Search & Destroy, Ewidos, Hijackthis, CWShredder. You should first scan in safe mode, and MAKE SURE that in MSCONFIG EVERYTHING IS ENABLED. You should also make sure that System Restore is turned off (this is a place where malware likes to reside to resurrect itself if it is deleted).

First, use Hijack this, and note what the settings are. After scanning, remove as many malwares and you can, reboot in safe mode, and repeat the removal process. Run Hijack this again, and note any changes. Look up in forums on the Internet to see if anything remaining in Hijack this is considered bad, if so, make a backup of all of your settings, and proceed with caution. If removing the malware is going to take longer than a re-install and the client has a backup of their important documents, it may be wiser to just perform a re-install.

There are three ways you can setup a printer.
1. You can use the installer that came with the printer to install it, and this will often times come with other programs that will help you run diagnostics on the computer.
2. If the printer is plug-and-play and the drivers are built into the Windows OS, then all you have to do is plug the printer in, and it should be recognized.
3. If the printer is networked, you can use the UNC to connect to the computer that is sharing the printer, and then double-click the printer to install it (the driver has to be either on the client computer or the print server). You can also click the add printers icon in Control Panel and select check for network printers, and this will scan Active Directory for any computers that may be part of the directory, and allow you to install the printer as if it was a printer connected to a peer-to-peer print server.

Command Line
There are many things that can be done through command line. Here are the following useful commands:

Netstat –A: Shows you what the computer is connected to (ports) and is listening on.
Ping : Allows you to send an ICMP echo to check to see if there is a live network interface on a computer (some servers and firewall will purposely not send an an echo back for security reasons)
Nbtstat –A: Allows you to check what shares are available on a particular computer.
Tracert: Show how many hops to a destination there are, and what the times are on said hops.
Arp: Will show you a table of all
Whoami: On a server, this will show you who you are logged in as, and what the computer name is
Net use: Will allow you to map a drive or a printer
Net stop : Will allow you to stop a service via the command line.
Ipconfig : will allow you to view the address information on an interface, or release and renew an IP address.
Route : Will allow you to add dynamic or static routes to the routing table of the workstation or server.

Services
Some malware can install itself as a services, so you may want to periodically check to see if there are any unusual services running on a computer. If the computer is a server, keep in mind, that the more services there are, the longer it will take for the server to reboot, or boot up. A lot of times, MS Exchange is the biggest offender of causing a server to come up or go down slowly. You should stop the Exchange services before shutting down, or rebooting, to shorten the time it takes for a server to go down.

Wireless Networking

Friday, October 6th, 2006

Wireless networks use high frequency radio signals to connect computers to each other and to shared-resources for the transmission of data such as files, images or connection to the internet. This type of network is known as a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN).
Wireless networks offer most of the same ability as a traditional wired LAN. If your wired network has the ability to access the Internet today, then your wireless LAN will be able to as well.
A wireless LAN typically consists of two components; a wireless network card and an access point. The access point serves as an aggregate point for all wireless LAN communications within it’s range.
The access point connects to a traditional wired LAN to provide access to existing applications and services. Each computer with a wireless network card can roam about freely within the range of the access point and have connectivity to other wired and wireless resources through the access-point.
In larger environments multiple access points are deployed to provide greater coverage throughout a floor or entire building. This gives complete mobility for any number of devices. In this situation connectivity is maintained uninterrupted from one access point to another. This is referred to as roaming and is analogous to cellular phone service we use today.
Using technology based on the 802.11a, 802.11b, or 802.11g industry standards, we can design your network to support data rates from 11 Mbps to 54 Mbps with maximum throughput.
An access point when paired with a wireless network card provides wireless network communications. It’s closest equivalent in the wired LAN is a hub or switch.
Although access points typically transmit signal from 100 meters to 300 meters, when combined with advanced antenna designs we can implement your network to support ranges as far out as ½ mile (or greater). Conditions like the composition of walls, antenna placement and other variables play a role in this effective distance.
Ad hoc is a mode of operation which allows computers to communicate wirelessly amongst themselves without an access point.
It’s generally recommended to always have an access point when more than two computers need to communicate to each other wireless or when connectivity to a wired LAN is required.
This varies significantly from one manufactures’ access point to another but a practical estimate is 15 to 20 users per access point.
Three18 delivers solutions based on the 802.11b, 802.11a, or 802.11g standards. This technology is not only cost effective but also provides excellent performance. The definitions for these standards are as follows:
802.11b
IEEE 802.11b is a technical specification issued by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) that defines the operation of 2.4 GHz, 11 Mbps, Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs). The 802.11b standard ensures that all wireless Ethernet products built to this standard are compatible.
802.11g
IEEE 802.11g is a technical specification issued by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) that defines the operation of 2.4 GHz, 54 Mbps, Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs). The 802.11g standard ensures that all wireless Ethernet products built to this standard are compatible and backwards compatible with 802.11b.
802.11a
IEEE 802.11a is a technical specification issued by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) that defines the operation of 5 GHz, 53 Mbps, Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs). The 802.11g standard ensures that all wireless Ethernet products built to this standard are compatible and will co-exists with other wireless specifications.
Solutions deployed by Three18 integrate the highest levels of security for protecting student grades, test scores, attendance records, or sensitive administrative files. In addition to the standard wireless security options such as 128-bit data encryption and MAC address filtering, our solutions include National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) certified wireless security techniques that are currently being used by the Department of Defense wireless networks.
This varies from one manufacture to the other but in general you can expect that all major operation systems are supported (i.e. Microsoft Windows 98, ME, 2000 Professional & Server, Mac OS, Linux, etc.)
It is possible today to build an entire network based on wireless technology. But in most cases an environment will have an existing wired LAN that they will wish to extend via wireless to leverage some of it’s advantages. Over time there should be a shift to more exclusively wireless LANs.
802.11a /802.11g are IEEE standards for faster and more capable wireless LANs. The answer to this question depends on the applications that you want to run over the network and whether there is an existing 802.11b network in place. Applications that require higher data rates such as video streaming would operate more efficiently on 802.11a and 802.11g networks. If you have an existing 802.11b network in place there are interoperability issues that must be considered.
For 802.11g networks, there are no limitations with existing networks since both operate on the same 2.4 GHz radio frequency. This is the main advantage of using 802.11g.
Since 802.11a networks transmit signals over a 5 GHz frequency, 802.11b clients will not communicate with 802.11a access points and vice versa. The good news is that the technology providers have begun offering “dual band client cards” so that end-users can roam between the different network implementations.
Bluetooth is a 1 Mbps technology designed for low cost and low power to connect personal devices such as cell phones, PDA’s, notebooks and other personal devices. 802.11b is a full LAN connectivity solution, designed to provide full network services at Ethernet data rates. 802.11b and Bluetooth both operate in the 2.4 GHz frequency range using different types of spread spectrum technology.
The Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECCA) was established in 1999 to certify interoperability of Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) products and to promote Wi-Fi as the global wireless LAN standard across all market segments.
Wi-Fi is an certification for 802.11b devices. All current product offerings are certified by WECA for Wi-Fi compliance in order to insure seamless interoperability with other manufacturers products.

A wireless network provides fast and flexible access to centralized content for applications particular to their environments. With this technology, organizations can establish network connectivity anywhere within the designed coverage area including conference rooms, offices, outdoor structures, and difficult to reach locations. Organizations can achieve gains in productivity by utilizing mobilized computers for real time applications such as data entry, inventory control, attendance, and etc. A wireless network infrastructure can also offer cost advantages over traditional wired systems through the elimination of the need to run expensive conduits and cable.

A Brief History of WarDriving

Thursday, July 28th, 2005

War dialing or wardialing is a method of automatically scanning telephone numbers using a modem, usually dialing every telephone number in a local area to find out where computers or fax machines are available, then attempting to access them by guessing passwords.

ToneLoc was a popular wardialing computer program for MS-DOS written in the early to mid-1990s by two programmers known by the pseudonyms Minor Threat and Mucho Maas. The name ToneLoc was short for “Tone Locator” and was a word play on the name of the rap artist known as Tone Lōc. The utility was created for the purpose of scanning for dial tones or modem carriers in order to find PBXes, long distance carriers, or other modems.

THC-SCAN
In the cracking scene of the 1980s, demon dialing was a technique by which a computer would repeatedly dial a number (usually to a crowded modem pool) in an attempt to gain access immediately after another user had hung up.

Wardriving is searching for Wi-Fi wireless networks by moving vehicle. It involves using a car or truck and a Wi-Fi-equipped computer, such as a laptop or a PDA, to detect the networks. It was also known (as of 2002) as “WiLDing” (Wireless Lan Driving, although this term never gained any popularity and is no longer used), originating in the San Francisco Bay Area with the Bay Area Wireless Users Group (BAWUG). It is similar to using a scanner for radio.

Many wardrivers use GPS devices to measure the location of the network find and log it on a website (the most popular is WiGLE). For better range, antennas are built or bought, and vary from omnidirectional to highly directional. Software for wardriving is freely available on the Internet, notably, NetStumbler for Windows, Kismet for Linux, and KisMac for Macintosh.

Wardriving was named after wardialing (popularized in the Matthew Broderick movie WarGames) because it also involves searching for computer systems with software that would use a phone modem to dial numbers sequentially and see which ones were connected to a fax machine or computer, or similar device. (Audio commentary on the Wargames DVD says that wardialing was named after the movie and the software did not openly exist before the movie.)

Apple’s Airport Express with AirTunes

Saturday, July 17th, 2004

It Integrates seamlessly with iTunes 4.6 by adding a “speaker output selection pop-up” in the bottom right of the main browser window. It took me a while to find it, but this was by far the hardest part of the installation. Now my output choices are “Computer” and “Home Main Stereo System” (you can choose the name of each Express as it appears in iTunes as well as password protect it). When I add more Airport Expresses later, I’ll have more choices from this pop-up menu to choose from

The Airport Express offers chart-topping sound quality using its digital connection option. Period. Although the Airport Express offers true digital connections to your stereo system, even its analog output sounds much better as compared to an iPod when plugged into the same stereo system.

One other note, the MAC running AirTunes can control the volume the Airport Express passes the stereo its connected to – a real bonus if you need to increase or decrease the stereo’s volume remotely. this is done using the iTune volume slider.

In addition to the usual security options (WEP, WPA, etc), I can also password protect each Express for AirTunes access too (using the included Admin Tool). This will can help limit AirTunes availability in more robust, less private environments other than my home (like businesses, coffee shops, hot spots, etc.). I can envision an Airport Express even working as the source for “on hold” music for business phones systems.

Now what about my older, legacy Airport Extreme Base Station?

I choose to setup WDS using the Airport Express as the main WAP and relocate my older Extreme BS to my second floor home office and set it up as the remote WAP for my home network. I used same network name for both and now have a perfect, full-coverage WiFi network for my entire home (including my rooftop deck and backyard, whcih were previoulsy unattainable locations with my older Airport BS).

Another cool thing is with WDS and multiple Expresses/Base Stations, I can have multiple USB printers available via Rendezvous concurrently. Now I can print to my USB Brother Fax machine and/or my USB Epson 880 without any other computers sharing these USB printer connections and making them available by bridging over wireless or Ethernet.

The Airport Express is small and therefore highly portable and it can save up to five (5) LAN/WAN configurations to help accommodate its portability. If you have one that moves around a lot (it is, after all, the size of an iBook power adapter and can fit in your front pocket), you can save multiple configurations for common destinations like your car, your office, your summer home, your house and your best friends house, etc.)

Because it’s very portable and I am sure that the one I have permanently connected to my home Cable Modem/Home Stereo will not be enough for me.

Setting Up Wireless Settings In Windows XP

Friday, September 19th, 2003

Connecting to the Network
Windows XP automatically polls the area for available wireless access points. If one is present, Windows XP attempts to connect to it. Sometimes, you will find that even though there is a wireless network in the area, Windows XP cannot recognize it. If this occurs, you need to manually add the wireless access point.
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Connecting to a Wireless Access Point Manually

1. Click Start, and then click Control Panel.

2. Double-click Network Connections.

3. Right-click Wireless Network Connection, and then click Properties.

4. Click the Wireless Networks tab.

5. A list of wireless access points appears in the Available networks box. Select TheWLink

6. Under Preferred networks, click Add.

7. A Wireless Network Properties dialog box appears.

Network Name (SSID):

WEP
Check Data Encryption
Uncheck: Network Authentication
Network Key:
Key Format: Hexadecimal
Key Length: 128 bits
Uncheck: The key is provided for me automatically
Uncheck: This is a computer-to-computer (Ad-Hoc) Network…

8. Click OK.

After adding the new access point, you can now connect to the new network.

Roaming to Another Network
When you bring your laptop computer into another wireless network area, Windows XP attempts to connect to that network. Upon success, you are automatically connected to the network. If Windows XP does not recognize the new network, refer to the preceding instructions to manually install the wireless network.

Wireless connections after installing SP2

After installing the update, the previously working wireless connection
stopped working. I fixed it with the following steps:

1. Get Properties on the Wireless Network Connection

2. Select the Wireless Networks tab.

3. Put a check in the box for “Use Windows to configure my wireless network
settings” (this may require disabling third-party driver software–look in
Start->All Programs->Startup to see if it’s set to startup on boot and
remove it if you see it there)

4. In Preferred Networks pane, select the Wireless network and click Remove.

5. Reconnect to the Wireless Network. There’s actually a handy wizard now
that will prompt for the WEP key.

In general, I like the changes they made to the Wireless functionality in
SP2, although the new Security Center is a bit intrusive. I’ll try to throw
together a first impressions article about SP2 sometime this week.

Disable FTP Passive Mode in Mac OS X

Monday, January 27th, 2003

FTP servers behind a firewall have major problems with Passive Mode, often causing time outs.

In classic, open control panels, and Internet
Click on the Advanced Tab
Uncheck the Box for “Enable Passive Mode”