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Tech Talk Radio Show 30 of 2009
Transmission date: July 27, 2009

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Ep 30: The NBN now has a CEO, Queensland Police wardriving, Microsoft shares fall as w7 goes to the replicators, SMPTE 2009 show highlights, 3D TV practicalities, Google's Apollo 11 code!

July 27, 2009

Wireless connectivity for devices such as laptops, pdas, netbooks and mobile phones seems to be old news these days, but the security issues associated with setting up wireless networks still seems to be a concern for authorities. As most of you are aware, wireless devices straight out of the box allow anything and everything to connect to them, and the reason behind this, is to allow users minimum fiddling about with settings to get the system up and online, allowing the laptop on the kitchen bench internet access within a few seconds of switching the router on.

It’s at this point that the non technical users says “job done” and walks away with the knowledge that all his devices at the home or office can now wirelessly connect to one another and services online. Problem is, so can the neighbours. One of the important stages of setting up a wireless network is the implementation of security and on today’s modern wireless access devices there are several methods to do this. The easiest and probably least secure way to set up basic wireless security is by using a WEP key.

The WEP Key is a password which is exchanged between a wireless device and a router on routers using WEP security. This is perfectly acceptable if you live in a low risk environment, that is, a location where only few people can see your network such as a suburban home. But if you live in a high density environment where more people can see your network, such as an inner city block of flats, then a higher level of security is required and WPA2 is the one for you. Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 improves on WPA by introducing encryption algorithms considered fully secure and implementing all of the mandatory components of IEEE 802.11i standard.

Now why am I bantering on about this, this week? Well the incidents of Wardriving are on the rise here in Australia to the point where law enforcement agencies are now paying attention to unsecured wireless networks. 'Wardriving' refers to the technique of searching for unsecured wireless networks by driving the streets armed simply with a laptop or smartphone seeking network connections, and let’s face it, we’ve all got one of these.

Queensland policeStarting now, Queensland Police plans to conduct a 'wardriving' mission around select Queensland towns in an effort to educate its citizens to secure their wireless networks. When unsecured networks are found, the Queensland Police will pay a friendly visit to the household or small business, informing them of the risks they are exposing themselves to.

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the Queensland Police said "It is a simple campaign, much like past police campaigns in which officers walk around railway station checking cars have been locked. If you leave your car unlocked, you come back and find a note from the Police warning you of the dangers involved with leaving your car unsecured."

Hay said the Police would ideally hope to return to surveyed areas within a month to "see if they've fixed the problem."

It does seems like a good idea, a little bit of proactive policing can go a long way, but one has to question the technical ability of your average police officer to find an unsecured wireless network with accuracy. After all, what would you do if you found a note under your door saying that your wireless connection was open for all to use and you knew it wasn’t yours? Would it be fair to say that curiosity would get the better of you?

Also on the show this week:

  • Adam turner tells of his heavenly experience in the cloud.
  • Ex Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo has left the country, but he’s still in the news for the wrong reasons.
  • The federal opposition cops a hefty bill for NBN information sought under freedom of information,
  • Microsoft’s profits fall as software giant sends windows 7 of to the replicator, and
  • Google help you fly to the moon, if that’s what you’d like to do.