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Windows 7: Wireless Adapter Security

15 Sep 2011   #1
seekermeister

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 
Wireless Adapter Security

I believe that my HTPC has been hacked a couple of times over the past few months. Somewhat like before, I found it displaying a bunch of Windows settings windows, which I never selected, and some very basic things changed, like the fact that it is now displaying in high contrast, so that the colors are all wrong (can't remember how to change it).

The desktop never has this kind of problem, but then it is directly protected by the router (Cisco E3000). The HTPC connects wirelessly to the router via a Belkin F5D8055 adapter, which doesn't require joining the network. The router automatically sends a signal to the adapter on it's own.

I trying to figure the best way to provide wireless security, and since I do have an old ZyXel wireless router, I'm wondering if I could replace the adapter with it? It is a G band router, while the Cisco is an N. I'm pretty sure that the Cisco could work with the ZyXel, but I'm not sure that the ZyXel would work with the Cisco.

If there is a problem with the dual router setup, how would I continue using the Belkin adapter safely?


















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My System SpecsSystem Spec
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15 Sep 2011   #2
Jacee
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit SP1
 
 

My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Sep 2011   #3
seekermeister

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 

It happened again, just a few minutes ago. I had been watching some videos on the HTPC, and afterward went to the kitchen to fix myself a snack. I couldn't have been gone for more than 5 minutes, and when I returned, the Windows Personalization window was open again, and the wallpaper changed to sort of a psychedelic pastel starbust. It seems obvious that someone is finding it fun to mess with my computer. The moment that I saw that, I checked for all incoming WiFi signals, and all but mine were very weak. That would seem to indicate that someone was using my own network ID, but if that were so, it would seem that he would have access to my desktop also, but I have found no evidence of it. Just how strong of a connection does it require to access someone's computer?
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18 Sep 2011   #4
Golden
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64
 
 

Hi,

I think as long as there is a signal, then that is all that is needed. What sort of security options does the HTPC/Belkin have?

Regards,
Golden
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Sep 2011   #5
seekermeister

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 

To be honest, I will have to review that, because when I set it up last, I pretty much slapped it together. I think that instead of the Belkin utility, I used the Windows one instead. Obviously, I need to totally rework the system to plug the holes, but was trying to plug some holes in my understanding first. I know that I have attempted to connect to a very weak signal like I'm seeing now...in the past, and never had any luck with it. That is why I figured the same would be true for others. However, Windows doesn't show any of those weak signals as being connected.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Sep 2011   #6
logicearth

Windows 10 Pro (x64)
 
 

Alright lets take a step back before you over complicate this by throwing more hardware into the mix. What security settings do you have setup on the Wireless hub (aka., your Cisco router)? WPA, WPA2 or something else? The wireless adapter just communicates with the Wireless Access point, which handles all the security not the adapter.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Sep 2011   #7
seekermeister

W7x64 Pro, SuSe 12.1/** W7 x64 Pro, XP MCE
 
 

It's WPA2. I'm sure that you are right, but I still fail to understand how the router appears to be protecting my desktop, but not my HTPC. Understand that the HTPC is not connected via a LAN, because I'm been too lazy to set it up. It just automatically receives a signal sent out by the router, which as far as I understand, only provides internet access, not access to the network. It seems highly unlikely to me, that the intrusion is coming from the internet, otherwise it would appear that the desktop would be the prime target, that only leaves someone hacking in locally. That is why I thought that it is a security problem at the HTPC/Belkin adapter.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Sep 2011   #8
BugOutMachine

Windows 7 / Windows 8.1
 
 

A few things that I would recommend you doing are the following:
Reset your Router.

Change your SSID and disable broadcasting.

Use a new WPA2/AES Key... plenty of sites online offer free WPA2 generators.

Disable the ability for someone to access the router remotely. Only change your settings via the Desktop connected with the Ethernet cable.
Enable MAC address filtering.

On your laptop, change your Wi-Fi radio's MAC address to something random and add it to the MAC filter. You may also want to change the name of your laptop.

These are just a few suggestions that will help prevent this nonsense.

If you want to be proactive, you can also download Wireshark and let it scan your connection while you are away... it could help you discover who and how this person is accessing your network.
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