I’m not sure about you, but I am old enough to remember my first LAN. All wires and plugs, and lots of disconnects due to poor connectors and cables. But now we’ve got Wi-Fi networks, and this makes us much happier, right? Well… sometimes! Often times, you will discover dead spots in your house, areas where the Wi-Fi signal is sucked into a virtual black hole. I call that “the black hole of distress”…
I don’t know how you like to call it, but the problem can be very serious, especially when it happens in a random way. You don’t have any problem loading a vegan pasta recipe on your tablet, but then, only five minutes later, you can’t even access the website that lists those juicy meatballs recipes!
Could this be the monstrous act of a bunch of meat-fighting conspirators? The answer is a firm NO! It’s just that Wi-Fi, like many other things in life, is far from being perfect. The signal simply loves certain areas in your home, but dislikes other areas. Just move your tablet a few inches and – bam! – the signal is gone.
You may already know some of the dead Wi-Fi spots in your home, but trust me – there are many more! Fortunately, applications like WiFi Analyzer (open-source) make it very easy to discover all the dead spots using a simple Android-based phone.
There are other solutions for iPhones and even desktop-based computers, of course, but the latter ones will only be effective if you will install them on a laptop which can be moved around.
1. Orient the router and its antennas
The antennas in your router are omnidirectional. This means that the signal travels in all the directions with the same intensity, unless it encounters an obstacle. So the first piece of advice is to place the router in the center of your house. Of course, if you’re only using Internet-connected devices in a certain area, you should place the router in the center of that particular area.
Sometimes you will need to send the Wi-Fi signal towards a specific device – the laptop in your home office, for example. If this is the case, make use of a RP SMA extension cable and connect it to a directional antenna.
If your router has internal antennas, you can place a sheet of aluminum foil behind it to direct the signal towards the desired location.
2. Choose the proper router channel
Apps like the one mentioned above will help you determine the proper router broadcast channel as well. Since most routers are set to broadcast on channel 11, for example, you can use WiFi Analyzer and switch to a less crowded channel.
3. Purchase a new router
I know, you’re still emotionally attached to your good old router. It hasn’t failed you in 10 years, after all. But the reality is that the new routers are much faster. Not to mention that the dual-band routers, which can use the 5GHz frequency as well, are able to broadcast on many more channels, so your chances of finding a 100% free channel for your own use increase exponentially.
4. Use a range extender
If you already went through the items listed above and the situation hasn’t changed, it’s time to buy a range extender, a device that will receive your poor Wi-Fi signal, amplify it, and then rebroadcast it.
The price for a decent extender ranges from $50 to $100. It’s best to buy one that matches the specifications of your router, of course.
Critical Linux Vulnerability Exposed
Everyone loves Linux! In fact, this operating system is so solid that it’s being used on space stations as well. And yet, there are times when news like this one send shivers down our spines: Linux is vulnerable to an off-path TCP exploit.
Researchers have recently discovered a flaw that allows the attackers to intercept TCP traffic and alter it without needing a man-in-the-middle position. Fortunately, the vulnerability can only be used with the HTTP protocol, which doesn’t encrypt the connection between the visitor and the desired website.
The attackers can inject data and even terminate connections, though. And to make the matter even worse, this vulnerability hasn’t been patched since 2012.
There is some good news as well. Computers that run the Windows or Mac OS X operating systems are not affected, because they don’t make use of the affected RFC 5961 protocol, which is vulnerable to attacks.
According to researchers, a successful attack needs less than a minute, and the success rate ranges from 88 to 97%. To fix the issue, the TCP protocol implementation has to be changed, limiting its global rate with the goal of preventing side channel attacks.
Volkswagen’s Keyless Entry System is Vulnerable
Researchers have recently found out that keyless locks, which are installed on most modern cars, can be easily bypassed. The study focused on several vehicles that have been produced by Volkswagen, and the results weren’t very encouraging: the company has been using only a few keys to encrypt the wireless signals used by the car remotes since 1995.
Researchers have built a cheap transceiver, and then they have used it to capture the signals sent by the electronic keys. A single button press was enough for them to get the wireless key, and then open the car.
Audi, Seat, Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, Peugeot, Opel, Renault, Ford and Lancia are also affected by this problem. All of them are making use of an outdated rolling code scheme, which can be easily broken by a modern-day laptop within minutes.
This discovery explains why many high-end cars were stolen without a trace. And even though the manufacturers have been notified, a quick fix is not possible, because car software can’t be patched that easy.
And the thieves won’t stop here! Several vehicles have been stolen in Washington DC using a different method. The burglars are using an amplifier to boost the key signal. If the keys are close enough to the car, the system works. The targeted models are Audi, Volvo and Acura cars which have been produced in 2010 or later.
Vancouver Police Used the Stingray Surveillance Technology
The Canadian police force has admitted using cell phone dragnet equipment. The Stingray surveillance technology mimics a legitimate looking cell phone tower, with the goal of getting information, location and even content from the phones that connect to it.
Vancouver’s Pivot Legal Society has been fighting for years, trying to find out if the police has used stingrays before, and if they are going to use them again in the future. Both answers were affirmative.
Police has confirmed that the stingray device was used in 2007 to gather information about a potential abduction and possible murder. The device was used to determine if the cell phone owned by the abducted person was located in a certain area.