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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Airport and Bluetooth questions


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MalcolmTrendle

 
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I noticed that by default airport and bluetooth are turned on when the Mac is first set up. What is to keep my neighbor or a passerbyer from accessing my computer and putting something on it since these 2 options are on by default?
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Larry H

 
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Malcolm,

You can disable Airport and Bluetooth. Click on their icons in the top menu bar and turn them off. You can also set the default preferences in "System Preferences".

Larry H
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MalcolmTrendle

 
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I know you can turn them off, but it seems like it's risky for these to be on by default. What would keep someone from putting something on your computer when these 2 options are on and leave you open?
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chscag

 
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They would have to have your password and you would have to have sharing enabled in order for someone to have access to your machine.

The first thing to do when setting up your machine for wireless is to make sure you have encryption on. WPA encryption or WPA2 is the recommended method to use. Without encryption, someone could use your internet signal and ride on it piggy back at your expense. But they still would not be able to have access to your files and data unless you willingly share it with them.

As far as blue tooth is concerned, the range on BT devices is very limited and they would have to be "paired" to your machine in order to work. And again, that would not give someone access to your files.

Regards.
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Larry H

 
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chscag,

Could you explain how to turn on encryption for the Airport wifi?

Thanks,
Larry H
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chas_m

 
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Larry:

You're a switcher. You know how I can tell? Because you're being paranoid.

This is what Windows does to people; it convinces them that their computers can be easily breached.

This is not true of a Mac. The fact that airport and bluetooth are on by default means *absolutely nothing* to your security.

First of all, your airport card being on is a RECEPTIVE instrument. It's not broadcasting ANYTHING. Nothing. Not one byte of data until YOU set it up to do so.

Same for Bluetooth.

Second, as chscag pointed out, even if you DID set up the machine to be broadcasting information, you would have to take SEVERAL deliberate steps to make any actual data on your hard drive available, AND STILL someone would have to know your password to get beyond the "public" (empty) folder sitting in your user folder. Access to ALL OTHER folders beyond the public one is locked by default.

In short, you're fretting about nothing. Your Mac is not going to get remotely hacked without you actively wanting that to happen.

That said, of course if you are setting up your own wifi network (ie broacasting the network's presence), you should encrypt it. Hackers can't get into your Mac, but on an unencrypted network it is possible for someone close by your home to "read" the data you're sending out. WPA2 encryption should be more than sufficient to avoid that unless you live next door to the CIA (then perhaps stronger methods might be needed).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MalcolmTrendle View Post
I noticed that by default airport and bluetooth are turned on when the Mac is first set up. What is to keep my neighbor or a passerbyer from accessing my computer and putting something on it since these 2 options are on by default?
You didn't mention it...but I assume you're talking about a Macintosh laptop...since you've mentioned "passerby & neighbor".

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Larry H

 
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chas_m,

Thanks for the reply. Yes, I am a switcher, but not too parnoid! LOL Thanks for the info that outsiders cannot get to my Mac's file system.

My Mac's internet connection is thru a Sprint broadband card connecting to the cell phone 3G system. I do not have a wireless modem. I am using the Airport to connect to two PC computers in my house and I have 'internet sharing' on. File sharing is not on.

I have two concerns.

One is that I don't want freeloaders using my internet connection, as it slows my computers down and uses up my monthly allowance of data moved on my connection.

Two, I want to protect my vulnerable PCs from harm. The PC's do have firewalls, AV protection and so forth.

And I just don't want unknown others on my network.

Quote:
That said, of course if you are setting up your own wifi network (ie broacasting the network's presence), you should encrypt it. Hackers can't get into your Mac, but on an unencrypted network it is possible for someone close by your home to "read" the data you're sending out. WPA2 encryption should be more than sufficient to avoid that unless you live next door to the CIA (then perhaps stronger methods might be needed).
I think what you said in the above quote is my situation. ( Not the CIA part, but I do live in the USA, so who knows! LOL)

So, my question is this: How do I turn on or set encryption on the Airport wifi?

Thanks,

Larry H

PS: Love visiting Victoria by boat!
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MalcolmTrendle

 
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I noticed under Airport one of the default options that's checked is to "ask to join new networks". Can someone explain this?
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chscag

 
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Hi Larry:

Quote:
So, my question is this: How do I turn on or set encryption on the Airport wifi?
You do that through your router's setup menu. Router's can be accessed by using a web browser and typing in their IP address. Your router's manual or setup instructions should have an explanation of how to do that.

Once in the router setup menu, look for the wifi section. In that section or menu you will find options for using security. We recommend you choose the strongest encryption method = WPA2. Set in a pass phrase. And - important: make sure the router SSID is turned on and broadcasting.

You should be able to "see" your SSID (network name) through airport. From there, it's a matter of connecting by using the correct pass phrase.

Regards.
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IvanLasston

 
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You are setting up an ad-hoc network i.e. you are routing traffic through a computer instead of a router. Unfortunately the only available encryption is WEP - which is just barely worth turning on.
How To Crack 128-bit Wireless Networks In 60 Seconds
When you create the wireless network - you can put in either a 5 character or 13 character password thus enabling WEP 40 or 128 bit.
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/conten...s-network.html

What you should do is invest in a broadband router - I like the 3gstore for purchasing cradlepoint routers. Then you can have proper WPA2 encryption.
3Gstore.com, Mobile Broadband Made Easy. CradlePoint Routers, MiFi, Antennas, Amplifiers and Verizon & Sprint EVDO Modems.
Extending and Protecting 3G/4G Networks Wirelessly | Cradlepoint Technology
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Mr. Drums

 
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Why would your neighbor want to "put something" on your computer? My Airport is always on, and I have many neighbors. None of them (even the ones who don't like me) have ever tried to "put something" on my computer. Also, I would guess that the chances are quite high that if I told them that my Airport is always on, they would STILL not "put something" on my computer.

Come on, people! I'm not sayin'....I'm just sayin'....
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Larry H

 
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Malcolm,

Sorry if I sidetracked your thread. You asked

Quote:
I noticed under Airport one of the default options that's checked is to "ask to join new networks". Can someone explain this?
.

If you check that box and turn on Airport, your computer will search out all networks in range, and ask if you want to join. This should allow you to find wifi networks you might want to use.

If that box is not checked, you will have to tell your computer what networks to join.
As a test, check that box and see what the text next to the box says, then uncheck the box and see the text change.

Larry H
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Larry H

 
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Ivan,

Thanks for your answer. You have come closest to answering my question.

As I now understand it, to have a secure wifi network, I need a router.

I agree that the Cradlepoint routers that accept a 3G card look like the best deal.
I plan on getting one when finances allow.

Larry H
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IvanLasston

 
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To have a truly secure network you need to not have a a connection to anything - but that is just NSA paranoia. and I digress

To have a decently secure network you want to run WPA2 with a strong password - upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation. There are brute force attacks that can break dictionary words and simple passwords. The longer the better.

I have the PHS 300 - the cool thing about that router is it can run off of battery - I do have a mifi already - but I bought it back when i had a a usb modem. Even still - I can run 16 computers off of the PHS 300 vs the 5 off of the mifi directly. If I were just running at home I would get something with a ethernet port. It has been a great fallback for when my cable modem decides to go down.

Good luck and don't forget to report back with what you buy and how it goes. There are quite a few posts here about ad hoc networks.
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