Arnold terminates insecure Wi-Fi

The Governator has signed a bill that'll force tech companies to warn consumers about securing their wireless routers.  That's both good news and bad news.  It's good that more people will be securing their personal information, but on the other hand, I've certainly piggy-backed off those clueless users when I've been somewhere and needed to check my e-mail.

Wireless Alphabet Soup

If you thought having 802.11a, b, and g to choose from was too much, get ready for your wireless future:

In July 2005, the FCC opened up the use of the 3.65-3.7 GHz band for public use, previously reserved for fixed satellite service networks. The 802.11y working group will develop a standard to use this band for 802.11 wireless networking while introducing a standards-based mechanism to avoid interfering with existing use of this spectrum. Benefit: More frequency space means more available channels, which is nice since 2.4 GHz is pretty crowded (one of my students recently found 960+ 802.11b/g AP's in downtown LA in 20 minutes of walking around the hotel). A standardized interference avoidance mechanism will also streamline the adoption of new frequencies in the future.

With the addition of 802.11y as a physical layer option for wireless networks, we'll likely see some new combination cards within the next few years to support this frequency. With the addition of 802.11n for MIMO, 802.11e for European 5 GHz networks and 802.11j cards for Japanese 4.9 GHz networks, we'll end up with 802.11a/b/e/g/j/n/y cards. Awesome!

Proxim goes broke, sells out

Proxim, the maker of the wireless gear that I use here on campus, has apparently declared bankruptcy and sold themselves:

Beleaguered wireless equipment provider Proxim (Quote, Chart), stung last year by losing a $22.75 million dollar lawsuit to Symbol, announced this weekend that it would "sell substantially all assets" to Moseley Associates of Santa Barbara, Calif., for $21 million to become a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Hmm, sounds like it might be time to demo that Meru equipment I've been eyeing...

Frustrating Tiger Bug

I've encountered my first frustrating Mac OS X 10.4 bug. This bug is driving me nuts at home, where I have three base stations covering my house. When I roam between them, I suddenly lose my connection and have to reestablish it. This better be fixed in 10.4.1 or I may be going back to OS X 10.3 until such time as it is, as it really sucks to be in the middle of an instant message conversation or file transfer and suddenly wind up disconnected. I can also try going back to just one wireless AP to cover my house, but I've had problems getting a solid connection throughout the whole house on one AP before.


My co-worker Aaron and I spoke today at the annual conference of the Iowa Distance Learning Association and the Iowa Association for Communication Technology. We gae a presentation about wireless security, why it's important, and an overview of the various technologies involved in it. Supposedly, we were a hit, but I'll wait until I see the evaluation forms to believe it. I did only see one person sleeping during our talk, but there was another one nodding off...

802.1X capable card for Pre-AirPort Macs

It looks like I found a wireless card that does work with 802.1X (other than Apple-branded cards) for users of older Macintoshes. The MacWireless 11g Card works fine in a student's Lombard with OS X 10.3. This is the same student who had tried the misleading D-Link card in the past, and she bought this one on my suggestion: So, if you've got any users out there who have pre-AirPort Macs that they want to get on an 802.1X network, this is the only solution I've found so far, it uses the integrated Apple AirPort drivers, so setup is identical to the AirPort cards. We're using PEAP and MSCHAPv2 here, and so far it seems to be working great, even if this 333Mhz G3 is a bit slow.

DLink Stinks - Beware the DWL-G650X which has no 802.1X

Just a word of warning about the DLink DWL-G560X wireless card, DLink sells this card exclusively for Macs, and claims numerous times on their web site (and in the PDF data sheet and in the specifications) that it will work with 802.1X: Except that there isn't actually any 802.1X support!!!!!!!!!

I had a student bring it in with her Lombard today, and there's nothing in the utility to configure 802.1X. I called their Tech Support, and I slowly repeated myself about three times, they confirmed that the web site is wrong. The card only supports WPA-PSK and WEP, which are consumer-grade encryption at best.

Considering the student's father specifically bought this card for 802.1X support, I hope they're able to return it, but I just didn't want anyone else to fall victim to the same trap. D-Link claimed that they'd change the web site, but since this is how "Ejaz Mahfuz" wrote up my call, I doubt it's going to happen soon:

  • In the product manual there is no option to setup the utiliyt with the security 802.1x.
  • Neither it says in the local websit.
  • But the product description on the site is not right about the security about the 802.1x.

  • Mark your calendars

    I'm going to be presenting at the Iowa Association for Communication Technology annual conference on April 1 in Cedar Rapids. It's a joint conference with the Iowa Distance Learning Association. My co-worker Aaron Howard and I will be covering the evolution of our campus wireless network over the last 5 years, as well as the security and usability implications of various wireless security methods in the chaotic campus network environment.

    Tax Aide

    I spent much of my Martin Luther King Jr. Day (which we do get off, though we don't get Veteran's Day, President's Day, or Columbus Day, since apparently universities don't have to appear sensitive to those groups) helping our local AARP Tax Aide office get their computers networked wirelessly and securely. They prepare taxes for low income and/or elderly persons for no charge. My neighbor is a member of the local Retired Senior Volunteer Program who runs the computers for this yearly. He said last year that they prepared about 1100 returns, so it was definitely worth a trip from me out there to get their network secured and encrypted.