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Re: wi-fi security?

Johann Spies wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 05, 2009 at 07:45:48AM -0400, Zachary Uram wrote:
>> Got a new laptop and was wondering about wifi security. I've never
>> used wifi before. I wanted to go to some of the local coffee shops
>> that offer free wii but I need to know:
>> 1) How do I setup wifi in Linux?
> The easiest way is to use network-manager.  If you click on the Icon
> in your toolbar it should show you the detected networks.  You can use
> the "Create New Wireless Network..." or "Connect to Hidden Wireless
> Network..." to set up connections.

I second the recommendation for network-manager.  If you don't want it
for some reason (e.g. you're allergic to Gnome dependencies), wicd is a
useful alternative.  I have also had decent success with wifi-radar some
time ago.

>> 1) How do I detect and connect to public free network(s)?
> See the previous answer.
>> 2) How do I make my laptop more secure so others on wifi network can't
>> steal or sniff my packets?
> When you use a network that is not using a wpa-protocol it is more
> vulnerable. 

wpa helps against others on the same network.  However, it's a good idea
in general to use encrypted access (SSL, SSH, etc.) for all sensitive
services to that sniffing the packets doesn't gain an attacker anything.
 And many free public access points do not use WPA.  WPA is primarily
useful for keeping unauthorized people from using your network; this is
a moot point for a public access point.

If you follow good general security practice by only giving out
passwords over SSL-encrypted connections (https, configure IM and mail
programs to never send passwords in the clear, etc.), then you don't
really need to worry.  The wireless (even without WPA) will be no less
secure than plugging in to someone else's network or using the Internet
at large.

- Michael

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