Monthly Archives: October 2016

Know More Uses For Setting Up A Wired Or Wireless Home

Setting up a wired or wireless home network has many benefits than just having Internet access for multiple computers in your home. Today, it’s almost a necessity to be able to plug in or connect via wireless to your network from any room in your house.

With many people who set up a home network, they end up under utilizing their home network and only use it for Internet access, attached to one computer.

Today, that kind of network setup is old school. Adding a router to your network, turns a home network into a LAN (Local Area Network) opening up many possibilities of what you can do on your network. Even if you have just have one Computer, many devices exist (other than computers) that are network capable, allowing interaction with other.

So what can you do with all this technology? Here are ten uses for what you can do on your home network.

1) File sharing – Sharing files over your network, between computers and devices gives you more flexibility than using USB drives or burning CD’s. Having the convenience of sharing photos, music files, and documents allows for more productivity. You can also use your home network to save copies of all of your important data on a different computer.

Backups are one of the most critical, yet overlooked tasks with computers. On a home network, it’s easier than ever to backup your data especially if you have an old computer with a lot of hard drive space that can be utilized. Better yet, devices that serve one purpose for file sharing, such as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) can also be a great solution for backups as well.

2) Video Game Consoles – Games consoles such as Nintendo Wii, Microsofts XBox and Sony’s Playstation are all network capable (wireless or wired via USB to Ethernet adapter) that let you connect to your home network and quickly get online. And don’t forget about hand-held games. Many of them are network capable as well (be careful since some only support WEP encryption).

3) Print And Peripheral Functionality – Once a home network is in place, after file sharing, printing is usually the next popular function you will want to setup. It’s easy to set up all of the computers to share a single printer, or you can purchase a printer that is network capable (no need to share printers from one computer). Gone are the days of using one computer just to print out a document or an email message.

Printers are not the only peripheral that you can use on your network. Scanners, Web cams, CD burners, etc are now available with built in network support increasing the functionality of a home network. Now you can tell your boss you are more productive working from home, because your network is more reliable and has fewer network outages.

4) Internet Appliances – Yes we are now entering the Jetsons age. Also known as smart appliances, these devices still have not caught on with the average house hold but manufacturers are now starting to incorporate the technology into appliances more now than in the past. Ranging from being able to turn on you washer or oven from the Internet to saving energy, sending commands to….your refrigerator remotely….still takes a bit getting used to (who would have thought remote controls would be beneficial to TV’s that only received 6 channels).

Soon internet appliances will be a “must have toy” and another reason why a home network is not just for computers.

5) Internet Faxing – Apparently the Internet and email didn’t kill faxing. It’s now as popular as ever with the many online faxing services available. In this era of paperless offices and digital documents, you’d think the paper and ink fax machine might finally be ready to retire.

But faxing is still an essential part of doing business for certain types of documents (think legal contracts as an example). No more stringing phone lines across your dining room or hitting your head in the crawl space to run a phone line over to your fax machine. Using an online fax services is cheap these days and allows you send any kind of document from email or other programs electronically to a fax machine.

6) Internet Telephone Service – Termed Voice over IP (VoIP) service, allows you to make and receive phone calls through your home network across the Internet, saving you money (substantually). These days quality of services has improved greatly to make switching from the old analog lines to digital, a no-brainier. Soon, everyone will be using VOIP. And when that day comes, imagine how you can fight back at telemarketers. Instead of hanging up on them, you’ll be able to ping them to death (DOS). Yeahhhh!

7) Home Entertainment – Newer home entertainment products such as digital video recorders (DVRs) media centers and home theaters, now support either wired or wireless home networking. Having these products integrated into your network enables audio and video sharing, media to be streamed and easy transfer of digital files between devices.

8 PDA’s – Blackberries, cell phones, iPODs, MP3 players and any other PDA you can think of either have or will have networking functionality built in (mostly wireless). These devices are quickly taking over the use of a personal computer, one application at a time. Having a home network that these devices can connect to, makes transferring files, or streaming media to and from much more useful than connecting to a USB cable.

9) Telecommuting – Sure, you may think having one computer that is connected directly to the Internet (via cable, DSL, etc) is all you need to telecommute for work. But in reality, companies these days are requiring you to use a company supplied desktop or laptop for working at home. With out a home network that you can just easily connect to, you’ll need to always swap the Internet connection between computers. Having the flexibilty to just plug in is much more convenient and won’t make you late for work.

10) Mobility – The freedom of not being tethered to a physical connection is one big reason to set up your home network as wireless. Even if you do have a wired network, with all the network ready devices in your home, you can still have the freedom of mobility, since you can go from room to room and just plug in (providing you have run a connection to each room).

One other good reason to have a home network, is the future. Think about ten to fifteen years ago with cable TV. Who knew back then it would be one way to connect you to the world.

Tips To Recover PC Or Devices Not Connect To My Wireless Router

Nothing is more frustrating when something just won’t work after spending hours trying to make it work. That’s what PC’s and wireless networks do best…frustrate you to no end.

One of the biggest problems I come across, is when someone can’t get their PC connected to their wireless home network. Yet, it seems to connect everywhere else but in their house.

Before I get the chance to look at it, I hear a long laundry list of things that were attempted to get the wireless connection working. Like re-typing the encryption password a thousand times, “rebooting the router first then my PC” (and a dozen other different ways), even moving the PC closer to the router.

Nothing works

But there are always two things missing in that list, if checked, may have saved hours of frustration and allowed more hours of surfing the web.

The “Usual” Culprit

The biggest item that can easily trip you up when troubleshooting wireless connection problems is NOT checking the wireless speed configuration on the router and PC.

Wireless speeds are 802.11 b/g/n, where:

802.11b operates at a maximum throughput speed of 11Mbit/second (and is being phased out with newer PC’s and routers)
802.11g operates at a maximum throughput speed of 54 Mbits/second
802.11n operates at a maximum throughput speed of 300 Mbit/second
Say you have a router that supports b, g and n speeds. Your PC, which you owned for a while, may have a wireless card that is only capable of running b and g speeds, but still won’t connect to the router.

Chances are, if you check your wireless router configuration, it may be set to enforce g only. Because of this, it’s not allowing your PC to connect with one of the lower speeds (in this case b or g).

The solution, change the speed configuration on the router to auto or mix (allowing for all speeds that is supported by the router). You PC will now be able to connect to your router…finally.

This solution will also work for your other devices that may be having trouble connecting to your wireless router, such as Xbox, PS3, Wii, Android phone or IPhone. Basically anything that can connect via a wireless connection.

NOTE: When you select “Auto” on your router, the maximum speed on your network will be determined by the slowest device connected to your router. For example, if you have two devices that can connect using 802.11n, and one device that connects using 802.11g, the max speed on your network will be 802.11g (54 Mbits/second). There is nothing wrong with this, but you should be aware of this when troubleshooting wireless speed problems.

If you don’t want to change your router configuration to auto, check your PC wireless network card setting. It’s possible, the speed it uses may only be set to use g, while your router is set to use n only (instead of auto). Typically PC wireless network cards are usually set to auto, but it never hurts to verify.

To check the settings on your Windows PC :

click on Start, then enter ncpa.cpl in the Run box (on Windows 7 you can also click on Start –> Control Panel -> Network and Sharing Center -> Change adapter settings).
next right click on your wireless adapter and select properties. then click the Configure button

make sure the advanced tab is selected, and look for the speed setting (some network cards are set auto by default and do not provide an option to change it.
Another scenario, is when your router only supports connection speeds of g and n, while your PC wireless card is old and can only run b connections.

If this is the case, check to see if a new driver is available for the wireless card. Otherwise, you may need to purchase a new wireless card to solve the problem.

As you can see, there are many scenarios that could be tripping you up when trying to troubleshoot wireless speed problems. Bottom line, check all devices and make sure they are configured to use the same speed or are set to auto.

Keep in mind, if you don’t use auto configuration on your router and set it to use only one speed, you may run into problems down the road when attempting to setup other devices in your home. Just something you will need to be aware of (and avoid being frustrated).

The “Other” Culprit

Wireless is great and eliminates the hassle of needing to connect devices using cables or wires. One drawback to a wireless signal is that it can be prone to interference.

Such is the case when PC or devices are unable to communicate with your router (or very poorly). Most Wireless routers operate at 2.4Ghz band (other WI-Fi routers may use 5Ghz band). In this band, you can select a Channel (1,4,6, 9, 11, etc) to broadcast on.

This is where issues with connectivity can occur, such as wireless connections constantly dropping (after being connected), poor performance, etc.

If you have phones or even a microwave that operates on or close to the band (such as 2.4Ghz) that your router is operating on, the possibility exist for causing havoc on your wireless network.

The solution? Try changing the channel your router is broadcasting on. By doing so, you may be able to move far enough away on the channel (frequency) spectrum that the offending devices are on, and eliminate the problem.

To make the change, access your wireless router administration page and select a channel.

For example, if you have a Linksys router, open up your browser and enter http://192.168.1.1 or https://192.168.1.1.

Once you have connected and logged on to to your Wireless router, go to the page for the Wireless channel setting, and change it to another channel. You may need to experiment to see which channels performs best for you.

NOTE: If you still can’t connect to your router, open a command prompt on your PC (click Start -> then enter cmd in the run box). At the prompt, enter ipconfig. Look for your wireless adapter and use the IP address next to Default Gateway.

If You Still Can’t Connect

Another possible reason you can’t get your PC or devices connected, could be caused by the encryption type.

If WPA2 is being used on your wireless router, make sure you are using WPA2 on the device that you are trying to connect. If you are using WEP (hopefully not), the same is needed on the connecting device.

Know More How To Hack Your Friends or Family Home Wireless Network

It’s just in my nature to do it. What you may ask.

Snoop around on a wireless network to see what is open and vulnerable.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t do it to hack into systems. I do it to show friends and family that just because they have a router with a firewall protecting their network from the Internet, the need to also secure devices on the inside network is just as important.

I’ve been known to cause havoc on wireless home networks such as having their printer spew paper onto the floor, or easily log into the router and disable access because they were lazy with using a password that was their home address (or worse, never changing the default password).

The shock of what just happen catches their attention.

For that matter, who needs to be stealthy when you can walk around their house and press a key on the keyboard only to reveal the PC is not password protected (social engineering remains an easy method for hackers, just ask the NSA).

My point is, you need to be vigilant with securing your home wireless network. NOT just from intruders on the outside, but also from trusted people on the inside.

You will be surprise how often your buddies or a drunk relative will freely pass along the wireless password (or passphrase as sometimes it is also called) to someone so they can hop on your network to preserve their precious mobile data usage, which can cost a premium these days. At this point, you better trust that person or hope things are secure….on the inside.

Learning to Hack (in a respectful manner)

Now, what I am about to show you, should only be used for good and only to help people. Don’t be evil and use these tools with malicious intent. Because with systems and networks, more than likely it will log your tracks and you will get caught if you go to far. Remember, unauthorized access is breaking the law, even if you know the person.

Since we will be talking about wireless access, the preferred device to use is your mobile phone. And the tool I use is Fing (available at Google Play Store or Apple App Store).

Fing is a free network scanner that will scan and map the network you are connected to, and discover all devices on the network. Additionally, Fing also has a subset of tools such as ping, traceroute, DNS lookup, and more importantly a port scanner (which I’ll show you why it’s very useful). Basically Fing is a swiss army tool for your network.

Obviously, to use Fing with your smartphone you need to be connected to a wireless network.

Once you are connected to a friend or family network, launch Fing and allow it to scan the network. As it scans, it will list the devices that are connected to the network.

As shown in the image above, there are not many devices connected to the network. But a closer look will reveal two very interesting devices. For instance, tap on the device that ends in 148 to display info about the device.

Aahaa, we found a printer. Let’s see if the printer is running web services. To find out, simply press Scan Services at the bottom and let Fing run a port scan to discover which ports the printer it is listening on.

As you can see, there are two ports we are interested in – 80 and 443. These ports indicate the printer is running web services (port 80 is HTTP and port 443 is HTTPS which uses encryption). To connect to the printer via a browser, let’s try port 80 by tapping on 80 then also tapping Open browser in the pop up window.

Oh man, that was too easy. Not only was it easy to connect and display the printer status as well as view the printer configuration, there was no password to make the connection! Let’s put this device on the list “tightening up security” when I talk to my friend.

No sense at this point to test port 443, since it will also connect to the printer, with out a password (sort of makes encryption useless when no password is needed). So let’s see what else is on the network.

The next device of interest to me is labeled RT-N66R. Want to take a guess what that is? Yep that’s the router. While I am familiar with the model RT-N66R being an Asus router, the other sure sign that it is a router, is the IP address of 192.168.1.1

Sure hope this thing is not wide open like the printer was.

To find out, repeat the same steps as above, but tap on the device ending in 1 to first display information about the device.

Yep, it’s an Asus router. Time to run a port scan by tapping on Scan Services.

Hmmm, this is interesting, we don’t immediately see the usual web service ports 80 or 443. That’s because the router is actually using port 8443 for it’s web service. And, more than likely, the 443 indicates it is using encryption (port 443 is the standard for HTTPS encryption). At this point, there is some hope that the router was securely configured properly. Let’s dig a little deeper and see if that is true.

TIP: to find out what port a router listens on, just do a Google search for the router model that was found during the network discovery.

Tap on 8443. In this case, I don’t see that a browser option is available. All I need to do is open the browser that I use on my phone and type the address as follows: https://192.168.1.1:8443/ (NOTE: you may need to accept the Security certificate to proceed after pressing enter).

Oh-oh, a login prompt. Well this is encouraging. Hopefully they changed the default router password. All routers come from the manufacturer with a default password and account. In the case of Asus, the account is admin and the password is admin (oh well, let’s not make this to hard Asus).

Attempting to use the defaults to log on, fails. That’s good news. But since I don’t give up easily, I’m going to try other passwords that may have been used (remember the home address one).

After several attempts at trying to guess the password, it looks like I’m not going to be successful with logging in to the router.

That’s good news to the owner of the network. And with no other device of interest on their network, it’s time to tell them about that printer. Hopefully they can secure it with a strong password!

As you can see, Fing is a valuable tool for accessing a network and identifying security and vulnerabilities. While I just demonstrated two capabilities of Fing – network discovery and port scanning, it has other features and tools that can help with locking down your internal network…and keep the bad guys like me, from wrecking havoc on your network.

Now that you know how to probe a network for weak points of access, this would a good time to evaluate your own wireless network and tighten security up a bit. In the next article, I’ll give you some tips on what and how to make your network more secure on the inside.