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hey wireless gurus

i've rented an apartment across the street from my friend. it's directly across the street and about two houses away.

My friend has an N router that's in the office of his apartment, which is the middle room. Neither my laptop nor my desktop have wireless capabilities. I bought a USB N adapter and tested the viability of trying to use the signal in my apartment. When i'm in the middle room of my apartment (where my computer is likely going to be set up), i don't get any signal. When i'm in the front room, i get one bar, and it's slow but decent enough to, say, play poker with. When i go outside and move a few houses down so that i'm directly in front of their place (but across the street), i get about four bars (out of about 10).

The questions i have are thus:

1) if we move the wireless router from their office to somewhere closer to the front of the apartment (and closer to the street), what's the likelihood that i'll be able to get better signal in the middle room of my apartment?

2) is it possible to set up another wireless router (either an N or a G) to pick up the signal from their wireless router as basically a "hopping" station to therefore boost the signal into my apartment?

3) how secure is transmission of data wirelessly in this manner?

i'm not sure what question 4 should really be, so let's start with those.

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Aug. 26th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
Not really a guru, but I have mucked about a little.

1 - Hard to say. The best he would be able to do is to set it up right next to a window or something, but even moving a wall or two closer would help. Whether it would help measurably, I don't know.

2 - Possibly. A quick search for "802.11n repeater" turns up a few hits. An alternative would be to buy a high-gain antenna, hook it to a wireless bridge or something similar, and use that to plug into your wired network.

3 - Pretty much all wireless these days supports at least WPA-PSK and probably more, and I haven't heard of any practical attacks against that yet. I would consider that reasonably secure (i.e. people can't sit outside his place with a laptop and break it in a matter of hours or days).
Aug. 26th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
1) It'll help.

2) That can work, though there might not be any self-contained consumer appliance box that will do it.

3) It... depends. If there's no encryption on the connection, it's wide-open for anyone to read what's going over the network.

WEP encryption really isn't better than no encryption, given how little time it takes to break. Also, everyone shares the same key, so anyone who has the key, either by cracking it or legitimately, can read all the traffic sent over the connection.

WPA encryption is.. amusingly flawed. Offline dictionary attacks are possible against WPA, which is just silly. But, it means that if your key isn't vulnerable to a dictionary attack (not based on a combination of a small number of dictionary words), it's secure enough.

Also, WPA uses constant re-negotiation of keys internally, so having a key to use that encryption doesn't necessarily let you read other peoples' traffic.

Also note that with wireless, in any case where you can read someone's traffic, you can forge data coming from them, which means someone can interfere with your connection.

Now, it's important to note that someone being able to read your traffic doesn't necessarily expose you. There are methods for encrypting traffic at a higher level than the wireless level. Any web site that uses HTTPS will have its traffic encrypted, for instance. If your poker programs use SSL, their traffic will be encrypted. If you use VPN or similar software, you can encrypt nearly everything.

There are a lot of options for various paranoia levels.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 26th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
well, of course that's still in the cards. i'm just trying to cut down on my high cost of living down here by sharing the cable bill.

silly. :)
Aug. 26th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
I would look for a wireless N bridge (many access points have this ability built into them and is the main difference that makes them $10 more expensive than the same model router) and put a decent directional antenna or two on it.

WPA2 would be the ideal security to use.
Aug. 26th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
so poking around - are bridges and APs basically opposites of each other? I'm looking at one product and it talks about how the bridge makes it so you can connected four wired ethernet devices to it, or you can set it as an AP and connect your wireless stuff to it. you can't have one function as both?
Aug. 26th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
A bridge is basicaly an access point in reverse. Most APs will say they have a Bridge mode. AP=take your network and make it wireless. Bridge=take your wireless network and make it wired.
Aug. 26th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
got it.

so what if i want to take my neighbor's wireless and bridge it, but not to a wired network but to a wireless network? it seems like most devices are set up to do one or the other but not both.
Aug. 26th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
Correct. You would need 2 of them. One acting as a bridge and one as your own AP. I've setup people with a setup like it in the past and it works pretty good as long as you can get a good signal where the bridge is set up. Normal setup would probably run about $150-200.
Aug. 30th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
'Technically' speaking, a bridge is a device that adapts between two forms of network connection...so wireless to wired, or cat-5 to fiber, as long as all it does is connect the two networks, then it's called a "bridge".

However, for the sake of consumer products, what sleeplessone said is correct.
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
To kind of answer your question yes move the router to the outside the building. Well as close to the window as possible. Those things have a pretty good signal range in the air. I would also recommended a repeater or signal booster or whatever they are called. Just put it by the window and it should help you out a lot. If you want more serious applications. Like LOS antennas, etc I can talk to my coworkers we are looking at that kind of stuff for work and I am sure they can help out. There are also some companies that make network bridges. For example. We have a wireless connection between 2 of our buildings about half a mile apart. (Yes it is Line of Sight) but 6k up/down is pretty good.
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