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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Hopefully, I'm in the right area - this is always where I get the best information! This question has to do with someone else's computer (my Sister's). She needs help and I can't help her - she is computer challenged (more than I am)

    She just moved into a condo. When she boots up her computer, she gets connected to a linksys wireless network that says it is a secure network. However, it has not required her to sign in with a password. This is strange. In her list of networks, it says that she is, in fact, connected to this network and she can also access the internet so she knows she is connected to something. Then there is another network listed there and it is an Unsecured computer-to-computer network (it is named "cocoloco") and the connection is "on demand". There is a yellow star next to it and it has what she describes as one bar (connectivity strength). This network never showed up until she moved to this condo that she is renting. She never set it up in any way - it just showed up. Her concern is that even though she is not clicking on it to connect, that someone else on the other side of the "computer to computer" could connect to her. She said there is a yellow star next to it and a bar like the bars that show how strong your connection is. There is only one bar but that would seem to indicate that it is connected somehow. When she clicks on the connection, it gives her a warning that it is not a secure network and asks if she wants to continue to connect. It is confusing. We can't seem to find any way to delete it or remove it.

    Another interesting thing is that the people she rented from said that they had wireless internet but she doesn't see any kind of router in the place and that the complex does not have a shared internet connection. So she has no idea how she is connecting to a secure network in the first place since she would have had to enter a password in order to get connected but she has never done that - she just gets connected. She has not signed up and is not paying for any internet provider - she just moved in.

    I read something about an "ad hoc" connection but don't understand it. In order for her to have this on her computer did someone have to set it up? If not, could it have been done remotely?

    Any insight and help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Her computer is pretty old (6-7 years) and she is running windowsXP

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
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    Free Internet, excellent!

    Just install a free personal firewall and set the wireless connection as "internet zone". That'll keep people out.

    cheers, Paul

  3. #3
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    This "Wireless" may be provided by the building management.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

  4. #4
    5 Star Lounger
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    From your description it is a little hard to tell where you are "seeing" this computer to computer network. If you click on the network icon in the tray (down by the clock), you should see all the networks in range of your computer that are transmitting their ssid. Unless it says "connected" beside the network description, you are not connected to them. You cannot "delete" them as this is just a scan of all the networks the computer can see. Just because you can see that computer-to-computer (or ad hoc, it means the same thing) network does not mean they can see or connect to you, unless you have your computer setup to create an ad hoc network also. (this setting makes your computer broadcast an ssid just like a wireless router and allows other computers to connect to it).

  5. #5
    New Lounger
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    Beware of ad hoc networks, they are sometimes used in man-in-the-middle attacks to steal private data. They are not always evil, vendors who visit our office have that set up so they can share their drive and people in a meeting, so if you are not trying to connect to an ad hoc network then stay away from them. In fact, stay away from any unknown network, especially in a high density area (apartments, condos, student dorms). It will save you from a lot of headaches later.

    As far as a secured network not requiring a password, I would suspect that the PC may be switching to another unsecured network behind the scenes (the unsecured ad hoc maybe?).

    As a suggestion, try to get more detail from the owners as to how to connect to their network. It is possible their network isn't working and the PC is seeing whoever is working.

  6. #6
    New Lounger
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    1) It is possible to connect to the 'secure' network if the owner failed to set a password. Bit pointless securing it, really...

    2) You can normally set an option in your wireless software to only connect to Infrastructure networks. This means that you will not be able to connect to 'ad-hoc' networks, although they will still appear on the list (depending on the software you're using)

    3) Unless you have set up your own ad-hoc wireless network, no-one will be able to connect to your computer using the wireless connection. Of course, if you connect to theirs, they will be able to access your computer. Make sure you activate a good firewall.

    4) Using the wireless network of someone you don't know is risky: they may have packet sniffer software on their PC and be able to eavesdrop on your traffic. Make sure that you only send personal data across https links - most email client links are NOT secure...

    5) If you set up your own wireless network and plan on letting outsiders use it, make sure that the 'Wireless Isolation' option on your router is set, otherwise they will be able to monitor other wireless traffic on your network.

    HTH,
    Ken

  7. #7
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    I have seen interesting results when two routers seen by a computer had the same SSID. The SSID is the name you see when connecting to the router.By default, Linksys uses the SSID Linksys. If both her landlord and another tenant have routers with the same SSID, she may be clicking on what she thinks is a secured router and getting connected to an unsecured one. She should talk to her landlord and find out what SSID she should be looking for and get the password as it should be secured. As previous responses have stated, it's not a good idea to randomly use an unsecured router. Nor is it a good practice to have your router be unsecured.

  8. #8
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    Wireless isolation does not prevent others eavesdropping on your data - you are broadcasting your wireless signal.

    You can't really keep your data private - it has to traverse the internet. You can keep it private between your computer and the internet by subscribing to a VPN service (or using a free one).
    Search for "VPN service".

    cheers, Paul

  9. #9
    New Lounger
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    Go to:

    http://www.metageek.net/products/inssider

    and download inssider.

    Allows you to see details of every network in your area.

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