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Fun With A Wireless Router

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This is for information purposes only. Really, just try this on your own network and you will learn a little bit more about why and how to configure a router...

Using a computer that can detect/connect to a wireless network, you can find a bunch of unsecured access point SSIDs (ex. linksys, belkin54g, joesinternet, etc.).

Connect to one, enter 192.168.*.1, where * = usually 1 or 2, maybe 15 (use ifconfig, check in your terminal for the inet addr [for Linux])

If you are successful, an Authentication Required window will come up. If the model number comes up, this can give you a lead on where to look for default settings. For example, most Linksys wireless routers in the default configuration leave the user name blank and have a password 'admin'. Sometimes it is reversed, or it is 'admin' and 'password'. Consult the manufacturer's website for more info (i.e. www.linksysbycisco.com).

Once you get into the router configuration page, you can do some quirky things. You can change the SSID from 'linksys' to something a bit more humorous, set up security (new password and username), set up static IP addresses for you to connect to, and other fun stuff.

Now, given that you are doing this to your own network, here's how to reset the router:

Unplug all Ethernet cables.

Unplug power

Plug power back in

Let the router do its power-on stuff (flashing lights)

Use a paper clip to push in the reset button (hold for at least 15 seconds, preferably 30)

Plug Ethernet cables back in

Wait a bit...

Search for wireless networks

The default name should come up; connect to it.

Enter 192.168.*.1 like before

Enter default password

Fix your security!!

That's about it. Don't do any damage, just have some fun!

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Unsecured wireless routers are nothing new. Most people don't know what an SSID is, let alone how to change it. They also don't know how to change the admin console password, nor do they understand the security implications of doing so. Though, the implications here aren't much. Since the admin console is usually only available over Ethernet from the internal network, it's not like someone connecting to your router via unprotected wifi has access to it. And the other things you mention require both physical access to the router, and for clients to be reconfigured so they don't realize anything has changed.

This is mostly a failure on the router manufacturer's part. They should understand their market. They should know that this is home networking equipment and should assume zero knowledge. The device shouldn't function until the user visits the admin console for the first time (with no password) where a web-based wizard will walk them though setting up a password, and either leave the wireless open or set up WPA. There are also facilities in Vista (and maybe XP, I'm not sure) to set up wireless routers with GUI wizards as well. Things could be better, to say the least.

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Yeah, this isn't new. Like Ohm said, some people just plug in their router and start surfing without changing any of the defaults. Hell, they probably would never know that you owned them by changing their SSID, they'd just figure it was a new network and that their old one disappeared.

But, there's really no honor in screwing with people this way. I mean, what amount of skill does it take to connect to an unsecured network, go to the web based configuration panel, and make changes? It's just childish. I mean, my grandma could very easily do this.

But I like the fact that you have the intellectual curiosity to experiment with this type of stuff; you definitely have the right mindset to be a hacker.

BTW: If you type "ipconfig" into your command prompt, it'll tell you what the default gateway is, so you don't have to guess.

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