The Norman Transcript

Business

February 9, 2014

How hackable is your wireless network router?

NORMAN — Most everyone these days uses some sort of wireless network to distribute an Internet connection around their house or business to multiple devices. Most people also know they should password-protect their wireless network to keep away unwanted guests.

But, what if there is something wrong with the wireless router, itself? What if it is flawed in a way that all the passwords in the world won’t protect?

In early December 2011, reports began to surface about a fundamental flaw that had been revealed in some of the most commonly used wireless routers found in millions of homes and businesses around the world.

This flaw, called Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), allows any bad guy with a semi-fast computer and half an ounce of brains to hack right into a wireless network, steal its password, sign right in and set up shop.

Not all wireless routers have the problem, and some can actually be fixed. For some, the fix simply involves changing a setting in the routers’ internal configuration.

Some can be fixed by downloading and installing new “firmware,” available from the manufacturer, a process akin to installing a new operating system. Some can be fixed by installing firmware made by independent, third-party programmers.

In all cases, the “fix” results in some way of turning off the flawed WPS capability.

WPS was originally designed as an easy way for technically challenged folks to set up their own “secure” wireless network.

Instead of having to fiddle about with obscure things called WPA2-PSK AES, Joe Sixpack could just push a button, type in a four-digit PIN code from the sticker on the bottom of the router and, suddenly, easily, “with the push of a button,” his wireless network was secure. Except, it wasn’t.

It wasn’t until the WPS flaw was fully revealed by a humble researcher named Stefan Viehboch that the major wireless router manufacturers had their “Oh, no. Duh!” moment and realized that protecting a secure wireless network with a four-digit PIN number is like protecting Fort Knox with a trillion-dollar vault door on the front but a two-dollar padlock on the back.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Business
  • Candy Basket celebrates 25 years

    Perhaps it’s the chocolate covered blueberries whose deliciousness still lingers. Or maybe it’s the blood orange and wild honey white chocolate ganache that won’t soon be forgotten by your taste buds. At The Candy Basket there is decadence ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Bramlett & Associates adopts new name reflective of business

    Bramlett & Associates Multimedia LLC (Bramlett Multimedia), 215 W. Main St., announced this month that the company will change its name after 12 years in business and will do business as BOLD-Multimedia. The announcement, made first to ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Toothpick holders convention coming to Norman

    Lynne Ryan has been collecting toothpick holders her entire life. “My parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.L. ‘Bud’ Gibbs started our collection in 1936,” Ryan said. Ryan was born in 1940, and she grew up crawling around toothpick holders, as have ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Protect your online banking, shopping with encryption

    In my free, one-night class called “Fight the Internet Bad Guys and Win,” I teach everyday computer users how to stay out of trouble on the Internet. How to avoid virus infections, how to discern between the genuine and counterfeit, and ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Tourism in Okla. creates $17.2 M in economic benefit

    A new National Park Service report shows that the 1,108,103 visitors to Oklahoma’s national parks in 2013 spent $17.2 million and supported 176 jobs in the state. Oklahoma’s three national parks include: Washita Battlefield National ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Norman United Wayboard gets to work

    The United Way of Norman Board of Directors for 2014-15 has met for the first time. Leading the group as chair was Steve McDaniel of Oklahoma State Bank....

    July 20, 2014

  • Family tragedy opened one woman’s eyes to the need of the disabled

    Jean Bayles had a dream. The dream was to provide a fully accessible home for rent in Norman. Her brother, Terry Abbott, was injured when he was 15 and has been a quadriplegic since....

    July 13, 2014

  • HeyDay brings Boomerang back to Norman

    Boomerang Grille was a family-oriented, iconic restaurant for many Norman residents for many years. Few are the people who have not slid into those vinyl seated booths, picked up the red phone and ordered a Theta burger and onion rings or ...

    July 13, 2014

  • Residents serve Leadership board

    Four Norman residents are serving on the board of Leadership Oklahoma....

    July 6, 2014

  • Bellhops offer moving help to Norman

    Founders Cameron Doody and Stephen Vlahos launched Bellhops at Auburn University in 2011. “Our first year, we set a goal of 25 moves, and after three days we had moved 230 students during the college move in season.” Doody said. “That’s ...

    July 6, 2014