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January 2002

Network sniffing tool proves companies need better wireless security

Betcha didn't know that wireless networks in Seattle are more secure than those in Los Angeles. Why? Simple. When rainwater collects on a window, it essentially decreases the strength of a wireless signal. The glass becomes more like a mirror, deflecting packets and reducing the range and persistence of any wireless connection-including rogue ones. How do I know this? Last month the folks at MSSP Guardent invited me on a war driving tour of Boston and Cambridge, and with this month's cover story in mind, I happily accepted. I've read a lot about how easy it is to intercept wireless transmissions and LAN-jack access points, but I wanted to see it for myself. So I took a little drive with James Foster, a Guardent senior consultant who used to do security work for the Pentagon, the NSA and the U.S. Navy. He brought along a laptop loaded with a wireless Ethernet card and NetStumbler, a shareware sniffer for wireless networks. Once NetStumbler detects an 802.11 connection, it logs the MAC address of the access point along with the ...

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