[wi-fi] Accessing neighbours AP can expose your own system ?

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by Benson Hedges, Apr 25, 2007.

  1. Hi all,

    An interesting conversation occured today at work between myself and two
    colleagues regarding how many unsecured wireless networks can be 'hopped'
    onto in our neighbourhood.

    I'm still cabled at the moment, but my two work colleagues both have
    wireless networks at their homes.

    At one point, one of my colleagues said that if someone were to join a
    neighbouring unsecured wireless network, say a house two or three plots
    down, that would in turn allow *them* (the unsecured network owner/s) to
    basically have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too.

    Is this true ?

    I really don't know much about wireless security but I did mention that if
    the intruding computer was firewalled properly, might that prevent any new
    connections being established to the 'intruding' computer ?

    My Googling has only turned up various interesting (and scary) stories of
    unauthorised wireless access, but I haven't found any answers to my specific
    question posed here.

    If anyone can throw me a clue or two I would be most grateful.

    Regards,

    BH.
     
    Benson Hedges, Apr 25, 2007
    #1
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  2. Benson Hedges

    Leythos Guest

    On Wed, 25 Apr 2007 15:48:59 +0000, Benson Hedges wrote: [snip]
    > At one point, one of my colleagues said that if someone were to join a
    > neighbouring unsecured wireless network, say a house two or three plots
    > down, that would in turn allow *them* (the unsecured network owner/s) to
    > basically have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too.
    >
    > Is this true ?

    [snip]

    Yes, depending on what security you have installed and setup on your
    computer. Once you connect to THEIR network you are as reachable as any
    other computer on their network. If you have file/printer sharing enabled
    and not blocked by a firewall and don't use a password, they can get into
    your computer....


    --
    Leythos
    Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.
    (remove 999 for proper email address)
     
    Leythos, Apr 25, 2007
    #2
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  3. On 2007-04-25, Benson Hedges <> wrote:
    > Hi all,
    >
    > An interesting conversation occured today at work between myself and two
    > colleagues regarding how many unsecured wireless networks can be 'hopped'
    > onto in our neighbourhood.
    >
    > I'm still cabled at the moment, but my two work colleagues both have
    > wireless networks at their homes.
    >
    > At one point, one of my colleagues said that if someone were to join a
    > neighbouring unsecured wireless network, say a house two or three plots
    > down, that would in turn allow *them* (the unsecured network owner/s) to
    > basically have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too.
    >
    > Is this true ?


    Attempting to answer my own question here; the intruding computer could be
    accessible if it was a Microsoft Windows box with drives shared through the
    'File And Printer' service (server) and was not properly firewalled ?

    Regards,

    BH.
     
    Benson Hedges, Apr 25, 2007
    #3
  4. Benson Hedges

    Unruh Guest

    Benson Hedges <> writes:

    >Hi all,


    >An interesting conversation occured today at work between myself and two
    >colleagues regarding how many unsecured wireless networks can be 'hopped'
    >onto in our neighbourhood.


    >I'm still cabled at the moment, but my two work colleagues both have
    >wireless networks at their homes.


    >At one point, one of my colleagues said that if someone were to join a
    >neighbouring unsecured wireless network, say a house two or three plots
    >down, that would in turn allow *them* (the unsecured network owner/s) to
    >basically have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too.


    Your collegue is wrong. All that that the joining does is to make your
    computer part of their network. If you are on cable modem, you are already
    part of a huge network. Then the other side still has to get into your
    computer. Of course if you are running wide open windows, what he says may
    be true-- eg you export your files etc to your Neighborhood, then yes they
    will be able to see them.


    >Is this true ?


    >I really don't know much about wireless security but I did mention that if
    >the intruding computer was firewalled properly, might that prevent any new
    >connections being established to the 'intruding' computer ?


    >My Googling has only turned up various interesting (and scary) stories of
    >unauthorised wireless access, but I haven't found any answers to my specific
    >question posed here.


    >If anyone can throw me a clue or two I would be most grateful.


    >Regards,


    >BH.
     
    Unruh, Apr 25, 2007
    #4
  5. Benson Hedges

    Leythos Guest

    On Wed, 25 Apr 2007 19:43:28 +0000, Unruh wrote:
    >
    > Your collegue is wrong. All that that the joining does is to make your
    > computer part of their network.


    And that's what he was asking about - the network you join can access your
    computers resources unless they are protected. In the case of most Windows
    computers, without a firewall, the default is to let file/printer sharing
    work across the local network (which is the wireless one also)....

    So, if he connects to his neighbors wireless, his neighbor will see his
    computer as another computer on his network, access is up to the computer
    security setup.

    --
    Leythos
    Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.
    (remove 999 for proper email address)
     
    Leythos, Apr 25, 2007
    #5
  6. On 2007-04-25, Leythos <> wrote:
    > On Wed, 25 Apr 2007 15:48:59 +0000, Benson Hedges wrote: [snip]
    >> At one point, one of my colleagues said that if someone were to join a
    >> neighbouring unsecured wireless network, say a house two or three plots
    >> down, that would in turn allow *them* (the unsecured network owner/s) to
    >> basically have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too.
    >>
    >> Is this true ?

    > [snip]
    >
    > Yes, depending on what security you have installed and setup on your
    > computer. Once you connect to THEIR network you are as reachable as any
    > other computer on their network. If you have file/printer sharing enabled
    > and not blocked by a firewall and don't use a password, they can get into
    > your computer....


    Thanks very much for that Leythos, much appreciated.

    Regards,

    BH.
     
    Benson Hedges, Apr 25, 2007
    #6
  7. On 2007-04-25, Unruh <> wrote:
    > Benson Hedges <> writes:
    >
    >>Hi all,

    >
    >>An interesting conversation occured today at work between myself and two
    >>colleagues regarding how many unsecured wireless networks can be 'hopped'
    >>onto in our neighbourhood.

    >
    >>I'm still cabled at the moment, but my two work colleagues both have
    >>wireless networks at their homes.

    >
    >>At one point, one of my colleagues said that if someone were to join a
    >>neighbouring unsecured wireless network, say a house two or three plots
    >>down, that would in turn allow *them* (the unsecured network owner/s) to
    >>basically have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too.

    >
    > Your collegue is wrong. All that that the joining does is to make your
    > computer part of their network. If you are on cable modem, you are already
    > part of a huge network. Then the other side still has to get into your
    > computer. Of course if you are running wide open windows, what he says may
    > be true-- eg you export your files etc to your Neighborhood, then yes they
    > will be able to see them.


    You (two) have provided me with a sanity check. :) The conversation I
    referred to in my original post occurred at an ungodly hour before
    sufficient caffeine had been consumed. I knew it wasn't a blanket case of
    'join an unsecured wi-fi network, and give up your hard drive's contents no
    matter what', but was unable to articulate my argument successfully at the
    time. (If that makes any sense at all).

    Thanks to yourself and Leythos.

    Regards,

    BH.
     
    Benson Hedges, Apr 25, 2007
    #7
  8. Benson Hedges

    Unruh Guest

    Leythos <> writes:

    >On Wed, 25 Apr 2007 19:43:28 +0000, Unruh wrote:
    >>
    >> Your collegue is wrong. All that that the joining does is to make your
    >> computer part of their network.


    >And that's what he was asking about - the network you join can access your
    >computers resources unless they are protected. In the case of most Windows
    >computers, without a firewall, the default is to let file/printer sharing
    >work across the local network (which is the wireless one also)....


    >So, if he connects to his neighbors wireless, his neighbor will see his
    >computer as another computer on his network, access is up to the computer
    >security setup.



    Let me quote what I was answering which you snipped.
    *****************************************
    >At one point, one of my colleagues said that if someone were to join a
    >neighbouring unsecured wireless network, say a house two or three plots
    >down, that would in turn allow *them* (the unsecured network owner/s) to
    >basically have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too.

    ***********************************************

    That statement is simply wrong. IF you set up your computer incompetently
    then, as with any computer connected to any network, this may allow others
    access. But the very fact of your connecting to the outer network does not,
    in and of itself "have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too".

    Your position is like saying that if I hook my computer up to the net via a
    modem, anyone in the world can therefor access my computer. They cannot. My
    computer has more safeguards than that.
     
    Unruh, Apr 26, 2007
    #8
  9. Benson Hedges

    Jim Watt Guest

    On Wed, 25 Apr 2007 22:00:12 GMT, Benson Hedges <>
    wrote:

    <snip>

    When you are conntected to the internet, if you have things open
    they others can look at them. Its the same for ADSL, Cable and
    WiFi except that with an open wifi network a third party can view
    the traffic easier.

    Using a VPN connection over foreign wifi provides a good level of
    protection.
    --
    Jim Watt
    http://www.gibnet.com
     
    Jim Watt, Apr 26, 2007
    #9
  10. Benson Hedges

    Leythos Guest

    On Thu, 26 Apr 2007 00:12:08 +0000, Unruh wrote:
    >
    > Your position is like saying that if I hook my computer up to the net
    > via a modem, anyone in the world can therefor access my computer. They
    > cannot. My computer has more safeguards than that.


    The OP didn't say what safe measures he had in place, we don't know. So,
    the fact is that the remote network people (their LAN) would have access
    to his computer directly. What services and resources is based on how
    locked down his computer is, which is what we don't know.

    --
    Leythos
    Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.
    (remove 999 for proper email address)
     
    Leythos, Apr 26, 2007
    #10
  11. Benson Hedges

    Leythos Guest

    On Wed, 25 Apr 2007 22:00:12 +0000, Benson Hedges wrote:
    >
    > You (two) have provided me with a sanity check. The conversation I
    > referred to in my original post occurred at an ungodly hour before
    > sufficient caffeine had been consumed. I knew it wasn't a blanket case
    > of 'join an unsecured wi-fi network, and give up your hard drive's
    > contents no matter what', but was unable to articulate my argument
    > successfully at the time. (If that makes any sense at all).


    But that's not completely true - since we don't know IF your computer is
    properly secured, and I'm going to assume NOT since you're asking, then
    your computer could be COMPLETELY exposed to the remote networks (LAN)
    users.

    So, again, while you could be safe, there is a real chance that you're
    completely exposed - you didn't describe your security setup to protect
    your computer, so we'll never know - always err on the side of caution.

    --
    Leythos
    Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.
    (remove 999 for proper email address)
     
    Leythos, Apr 26, 2007
    #11
  12. On 2007-04-26, Unruh <> wrote:
    >
    > *****************************************
    >>At one point, one of my colleagues said that if someone were to join a
    >>neighbouring unsecured wireless network, say a house two or three plots
    >>down, that would in turn allow *them* (the unsecured network owner/s) to
    >>basically have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too.

    > ***********************************************
    >
    > That statement is simply wrong. IF you set up your computer incompetently
    > then, as with any computer connected to any network, this may allow others
    > access. But the very fact of your connecting to the outer network does not,
    > in and of itself "have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too".
    >
    > Your position is like saying that if I hook my computer up to the net via a
    > modem, anyone in the world can therefor access my computer. They cannot. My
    > computer has more safeguards than that.


    That last paragraph is what I should have said to the guy who postulated the
    'join an unsecured wi-fi network, and all your base belong to me regardless'
    pseudo-fact.

    It wraps it up nicely. He's a know-it-all as it happens so I'm waiting until
    the subject crops up again where I will be considerably more prepared.

    I knew he was wrong, I just couldn't say why. Until now. Thanks again to all
    who posted just what I needed to see.

    Sorry guys, this is all my fault. Brain should have been in gear the first
    time around. No network questions at work until at least 10am (plus loads of
    coffee) from now on. :)

    Regards,

    BH.
     
    Benson Hedges, Apr 26, 2007
    #12
  13. On 2007-04-26, Jim Watt <_way> wrote:
    > On Wed, 25 Apr 2007 22:00:12 GMT, Benson Hedges <>
    > wrote:
    >
    ><snip>
    >
    > When you are conntected to the internet, if you have things open
    > they others can look at them. Its the same for ADSL, Cable and
    > WiFi except that with an open wifi network a third party can view
    > the traffic easier.
    >
    > Using a VPN connection over foreign wifi provides a good level of
    > protection.


    Thanks for the info Jim. I'm going to get myself a wireless AP and play
    around with it when funds allow. I'll make sure it's got WPA (2) as one
    layer of security, and also read up some more on wi-fi networks, just so I'm
    not caught out again like that.

    Regards,

    BH.
     
    Benson Hedges, Apr 26, 2007
    #13
  14. Benson Hedges

    Hexalon Guest

    Re: Accessing neighbours AP can expose your own system ?

    On Apr 25, 10:48 am, Benson Hedges <> wrote:
    > Hi all,
    >
    > An interesting conversation occured today at work between myself and two
    > colleagues regarding how many unsecured wireless networks can be 'hopped'
    > onto in our neighbourhood.
    >
    > I'm still cabled at the moment, but my two work colleagues both have
    > wireless networks at their homes.
    >
    > At one point, one of my colleagues said that if someone were to join a
    > neighbouring unsecured wireless network, say a house two or three plots
    > down, that would in turn allow *them* (the unsecured network owner/s) to
    > basically have complete access to the 'intruding' computer too.
    >
    > Is this true ?
    >
    > I really don't know much about wireless security but I did mention that if
    > the intruding computer was firewalled properly, might that prevent any new
    > connections being established to the 'intruding' computer ?
    >
    > My Googling has only turned up various interesting (and scary) stories of
    > unauthorised wireless access, but I haven't found any answers to my specific
    > question posed here.
    >
    > If anyone can throw me a clue or two I would be most grateful.
    >
    > Regards,
    >
    > BH.


    Connecting to a unsecured AP is considered trespassing. It is treated
    the same as if you were break into the person's house. Precedence in
    some states have been set for this, which really is unfortunate.
     
    Hexalon, Apr 27, 2007
    #14
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