Sharing is good ... until it starts eating your bandwidth

Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2016 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: security, isp, wifi

ISPs have stumbled onto a new money making venture, renting out your wireless internet connection to third parties so that those companies can provide public WiFi to their customers.  Sources told The Inquirer that some ISPs already do this without informing their customers and that it will likely be a common industry practice by 2017.  Theoretically you are allowed to opt out but since your ISP may not have told their users they are doing this; how would the average customer know to request this be turned off?

This raises several concerns, especially here in North America thanks to our pathetic internet services.  Most users have a data cap and the ISPs have little reason to spend resources to properly monitor who is using the bandwidth, their customers or random passersby.  As well the speeds of most customers are low enough that they may see degradation of their service if numerous passersby connect to their WiFi.  Putting the monetary concerns to the side there are also serious security concerns.  Once a user has access to your WiFi router they are most of the way into your network and services such as UPnP and unprotected ports leave you vulnerable to attack.

Change the password your provider put on the router and consider reaching out to them to find out if you have been unwillingly sharing your bandwidth already, or if you might be doing so in the near future.

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"Companies are going to be selling a lot more public Wi-Fi plans over the next few years and it's going to be home Wi-Fi users who'll be the backbone of the network, according to analysts from Juniper Research."

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Source: The Register

Make yourself a WiFi camera remote

Subject: General Tech | January 25, 2016 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: wifi, camera, DIY, iot

Hack a Day has posted a perfect example of how inexpensive and easy it is to build yourself useful things instead of shopping for expensive electronics.  If you have looked at the prices of cameras or adapters which allow you to wirelessly take a picture you have probably been disappointed, but you don't have to stay that way.  Instead, take an existing manual remote trigger, add in a WiFi enabled SoC module like the ESP8266 suggested in the video, download and compile the code and the next thing you know you will have a camera with wireless focus and shutter trigger.  Not too shabby for a ~$5 investment.

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"It’s just ridiculous how cheap and easy it is to do some things today that were both costly and difficult just two or three years ago. Case in point: Hackaday.io user [gamaral] built a WiFi remote control for his Canon E3 camera out of just three parts"

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Source: Hack a Day

CES 2016: Fasetto Teases Link SSD Storage Platform

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 01:39 AM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2016, Fasetto, Link, wifi, NAS, ssd, Samsung, vnand, 802.11ac

Fasetto is a company previously known as one of those cross-platform file-sharing web apps, but I was shocked to see them with a space at CES Unveiled. Companies without physical products tend to fall flat at this type of venue, but as I walked past, boy was I mistaken!

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To give the size a bit of perspective here, that's a business card sitting in front of the 'Link', which only measures 1.9x1.9x0.9" and weighs just under 4 ounces. That's a belt clip to the right of it. Ok, now that we have the tiny size and low weight described, what has Fasetto packed into that space?

  • Aluminum + ABS construction
  • Waterproof to 45 feet (and it floats!)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 802.11AC dual band WiFi (reportedly 4x4)
  • 4GB RAM
  • Quad core ARM CPU
  • 9-axis compass/accelerometer/gyro
  • 1350 mAh Li battery
  • Wireless charging (Chi style)
  • Up to 2TB SSD

For a portable storage device, that is just an absolutely outstanding spec sheet! The Link is going to run an OS designed specifically for this device, and will have plugin support (simple add-on apps that can access the accelerometer and log movement, for example).

The BIG deal with this device is of course the ability to act as a portable wireless storage device. In that respect it can handle 20 simultaneous devices, stream to seven simultaneously, and can also do the expected functions like wireless internet pass-through. Claimed standby power is two weeks and active streaming is rated at up to 8 hours. Even more interesting is that I was told the internal storage will be Samsung 48-layer VNAND borrowed from their T3 (which explains why the Fasetto Link will not be available until late 2016). This is sure to be a hit with photographers, as WiFi compatible cameras should be able to stream photos to the Link as the photos are being taken, eliminating the need to offload cameras at the end of a shoot.

We will definitely be working with Fasetto to help shake out any bugs prior to the release of this little gem. I suspect it might just be the most groundbreaking storage product that we see come out of this CES.

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Subject: Networking
Manufacturer: Killer Networking

Introduction

The Killer 1535 Wi-Fi adapter was the first 2x2 MU-MIMO compatible adapter on the market when it launched earlier this year, and is only found in a few products right now. We had a chance to test it out with the recently reviewed MSI G72 Dominator Pro G-Sync laptop, using the new Linksys EA8500 MU-MIMO router. How did it perform, and just what is MU-MIMO? Read on to find out!

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Killer networks certainly haven’t skimped on the hardware with their new wireless adapter, as the Wireless-AC 1535 features two external 5 GHz signal amplifiers and is 802.11ac Wave 2 compliant with its support for MU-MIMO and Transmit Beamforming. And while the adapter itself certainly sounds impressive the real star here – besides the MU-MIMO support – is the Killer software. With these two technologies Killer has a unique product on the market, and if it works as advertised it would create an attractive alternative to the typical Wi-Fi solution.

MU-MIMO: What is it?

With an increasing number of devices using Wi-Fi in the average connected home the strain on a wireless network can often be felt. Just as one download can bring your internet connection to a crawl, one computer can hog nearly all available bandwidth from your router. MU-MIMO offers a solution to the network limitations of a typical multi-user home, and in fact the MU in MU-MIMO stands for Multi-User. The technology is part of the Wave 2 spec for 802.11ac, and it works differently than standard MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology.  What’s the difference?

With standard MIMO (also known as Single-User MIMO) compatible devices take advantage of multiple data streams that are propagated to provide faster data than would otherwise be available for a single device. Multiple antennas on both base station and the client device are used to create the multiple transmit/receive streams needed for the added bandwidth. The multiple antennas used in MIMO systems create multiple channels, allowing for those separate data streams, and the number of streams is equal to the number of antennas (1x1 supports one stream, 2x2 supports two streams, etc.).

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Continue reading our review of the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 adapter!!

A Bit Off Topic: FCC Bans Wi-Fi Blocking

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 27, 2015 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: wifi, FCC

Because blocking a person's mobile hotspot so you can charge them to use your Wi-Fi is a completely jerk thing to do. The FCC has just released a warning to any individuals, groups, or businesses considering these measures that blocking Wi-Fi is illegal. This follows the decision in October to fine Marriott, the hotel chain, $600,000 for blocking personal networks in a Tennessee location.

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Now who's blowing the Raspberry?

Marriott, despite paying the fine, asked the commission to consider writing an official rule on this practice. They just did. It is illegal. The blocks of spectrum belonging to wireless internet are unlicensed, and thus no particular entity is apparently allowed to claim ownership over it, even in their geographic property.

It seems like a good decision to me, one that I cannot think of any immediate side-effects for, but this is one of those cases that a problem could be hiding in plain sight. What do you think? Am I missing something? Or is this a win for everyone (except those trying to block competing services)?

Source: FCC

Put WiFi in all the things

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2014 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: texas instruments, CC3000, CC3200, wifi

The new Ti C3200 SimpleLink is an ARM Cortex-M4 based SoC with inbuilt WiFi capability, essentially Internet on a Chip for the Internet of things.  Paired with the CC3200 LaunchPad which includes sensors you can use a PC and the SDK with 40 pre-exisiting WiFi apps to enable almost any device to communicate wirelessly.  The inclusion of AES, DES, MD5 and other security and encryption protocols is a welcome inclusion for anyone aware of even basic security.  The power requirements range from mA in operation to µA in the various sleep modes, making remote use with battery power a definite option.  Check out the links at Hack a Day for the spec sheets.

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"Texas Instruments’ CC3000 WiFi chip is the darling of everyone producing the latest and greatest Internet of Thing, and it’s not much of a surprise: In quantity, these chips are only $10 a piece. That’s a lot less expensive than the WiFi options a year ago. Now, TI is coming out with a few new modules to their WiFi module family, including one that includes an ARM micro."

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Source: Hack a Day

Kingston MobileLite Wireless WiFi Storage device

Subject: Mobile | August 19, 2013 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: kingston, MobileLite Wireless, wifi, wireless storage

Carting a large sized USB drive around is handy but Kingston has gone one step further with the MobileLite Wireless device which acts as a WiFi router for an attached USB drive or SD card.  It sports a 1800mAh 3.7v battery which should allow for up to 5 hours of usage and up to 3 devices can connect at any time making it a nice WAP you can carry around with you.  By not including any storage media Kingston kept the price down and with SD support you can store quite a bit in the device as long as you purchased a large SD card. The transfer rates that HiTech Legion were seeing were not incredible but would suffice for streaming video and certainly data.

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"Kingston MobileLite Wireless is a flexible Wi-Fi storage device that is lightweight and portable. The MobileLite Wireless acts as a USB hub and a card reader when plugged in to a laptop or a desktop computer. When unplugged, the MobileLite Wireless can then be used as a wireless file server, allowing up to three simultaneous wireless device connections to access the data stored on both the USB port or the SD card reader slot when populated."

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The QR code vulnerability is patched but Google Glass still has security problems

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2013 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: google glass, security, wifi

The originally reported vulnerability was based around a specially designed QR code causing Google Glass to connect to a WiFi network not of the owners choosing which would allow monitoring of data flowing to and from the effected Google Glass device.  While this issue was indeed patched there you still need to be aware that connecting to random WiFi can be a big security risk thanks to an unpatched spoofing bug effecting essentially all browsers.  As The Register reminds everyone, unless you are at least encrypting your traffic or using a VPN your data transmission should not be considered secure.

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"AUGMENTED REALITY EYEWEAR Google Glass is still vulnerable to attacks via connected WiFi networks allowing hackers to capture user data sent from the device, security firm Symantec has said, despite Google having quietly patched the eyewear last month."

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Source: The Register

Careful connecting to those pub WiFis

Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2013 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: cell phone, security, wifi, PNL

A security expert recently reminded people that the Preferred Networks List Bug which was identified in 2004 has only ever been addressed by Microsoft.  All other mobile OSes, from Apple to BlackBerry can accidentally expose their PNL to an eavesdropper who can then spoof it.  If you like setting up autoconnect on your devices you might want to double check the name of your active connections occasionally; if you are connected to your home WiFi while you are out you might have a problem.  Catch more at The Register.

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"Security expert Raul Siles has warned that years after it was first identified, the Preferred Networks List (PNL) Wi-Fi bug remains unaddressed on many an iPhone, Android phone, and Windows or BlackBerry handset."

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Source: The Register

ASUS Reveals Next Generation RT-AC66U Dual-Band Router

Subject: Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: asus, RT-AC66U, wifi, wireless router

If you are wondering why you should care about the new ASUS RT-AC66U dual band wireless router, perhaps the thought of a better than gigabit speed wireless connection might interest you.  It isn't just about the speed, even though it can easily be set up to provide basic access to one machine you can actually have up to 8 SSIDs to allow you to set up multiple networks with separate privileges making this router great for small to medium sized businesses as well as home users.  It has two USB ports and is perfectly capable of using a USB 3G dongle to allow shared connections over the cell network or you could plug in data you want to share as the router can also act as an FTP server.  Check out the full press release below for even more information.

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Fremont, CA (June 4, 2012) - the new ASUS RT-AC66U router integrates dual-band Gigabit wireless with fifth generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology, also known as 5G WiFi, which enables speeds up to three times faster than existing 802.11n devices. As one of the first routers to achieve this, it tops Gigabit wireless requirements with a combined 2.4GHz/5GHz bandwidth of 1.75Gbps. Coupled with exclusive ASUS AiRadar signal amplification and shaping technology, easy to use ASUSWRT setup software, multiple SSIDs, and IPv6 support the RT-AC66U is the perfect router for HD media streaming, large concurrent file transfers, and gaming. Impressive USB-based capabilities turn the RT-AC66U into a complete 3G, FTP, DLNA, and printer server device for genuine multi-role functionality in the home or at a small business.

Going beyond Gigabit Wi-Fi
The RT-AC66U is one of the world’s first dual-band wireless routers to support the advanced 802.11ac wireless protocol, enabling 5GHz band operation up to 1.3Gbps. These new capabilities are made possible by the inclusion of Broadcom’s powerful 5G WiFi chipset. 2.4GHz band capabilities work up to 450Mbps so the concurrent combined bandwidth of the RT-AC66U is 1.75Gbps. This unique router features sophisticated ASUS AiRadar technology to amplify signal strength and improve directionality to overcome environmental obstructions and increase data transfer rates. The inclusion of 5G WiFi makes the RT-AC66U one of the most future-proof routers on the market, ready for the next generation of high speed networks.

Extensive feature list enhances networking experiences
The RT-AC66U features easy and fast setup in just three steps with the ASUSWRT dashboard, while strict QoS (Quality of Service) standards help ensure improved bandwidth optimization and multitasking capabilities. Up to eight SSIDs are supported, so users can easily setup distinct networks with different access privileges and levels of security without having to compromise passwords. The RT-AC66U supports the new IPv6 standard for better packet transmission and addressing.

USB applications extend router versatility
With its twin USB ports, the RT-AC66U becomes a true multi-role device. Attaching a 3G dongle allows it to share 3G connections among several users on different devices. Full DLNA compatibility affords smooth connectivity with a variety of entertainment platforms, including game consoles, tablets, Blu-ray players, smart TVs, and set-top boxes. The RT-AC66U can also serve as a dedicated FTP server and/or printer server, letting users share resources for greater productivity while reducing costs as there is no need to buy standalone server hardware.

Full 802.11ac product lineup
In addition to the RT-AC66U router, ASUS is also releasing the PCE-AC66 and USB-AC53 client adapters, both capable of 802.11ac speeds. The dual-band PCE-AC66 offers a PCI Express client card for desktops with a 3 x 3 high-powered transmission antenna design. It offers transfer rates up to 1.3Gbps in 5GHz and 450Mbps in 2.4GHz operation modes. For easy USB upgrades to 802.11ac, the USB-AC53 compact dongle plugs into a USB port with a 2 x 2 design. In 5GHz operation the USB-AC53 offers transfer rates up to 867Mbps, while in 2.4GHz transfer speeds are up to 300Mbps, achieving a total throughput of around 1.3Gbps. The PCE-AC66 and USB-AC53 adapters are enabled by Broadcom’s 5G WiFi chipsets and demonstrate ASUS technology leadership in bringing a full 802.11ac ecosystem to consumers.

Source: ASUS