written by: Aaron R.•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 7/25/2010
Your wireless Internet connection may not be as safe as you think. A number of very easy to use programs can get your routers encryption key and use your wireless Internet for free. If you need any help securing your wireless router from wireless passwo
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It's always important to remember that your Internet connection isn't magically safe. There are always ways that hackers can use to gain access to areas that you want to protect. Hopefully, learning about the ways that wireless hack programs work will help you better protect your wireless Internet connection. If you know about wireless password sniffer hack tools, then you'll be in a good position to protect your own system against them. I'll also help you understand the usual motivations behind these hackers and why they might want to use your wireless Internet. If you want to learn more about the specific tools themselves, then you can read this review of the top five free wireless security tools. Note that you may want to read this Introduction to Wireless Security before this one.
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Wireless Hack Programs - How They Hack Your Wireless Connections
In order to hack into your wireless connection, the hackers need to first gather information about this. They usually do so by first sniffing for the various wireless routers broadcasting around them. I believe one popular program for this is Kismet. It can even spot routers that are not set for public broadcasting, so it gives them a larger list than a general wireless detection tool.
Once they've sniffed out the SSID of your router, then they can start focusing their efforts on just you. The only thing that they need to hack your wireless router and gain access is to get your encryption key (I hope that you're using a secured router, because otherwise you're leaving the door wide open). If you're using WEP, then they can usually try a simple brute force program. It just submits a lot of different passwords in the hopes that it will find the right one. WEP doesn't offer too much special protection and the codes are limited.
A more serious effort that could even threaten tougher encryption is a process that claims to be able to grab WEP and WPA-PSK. Basically, the package of wireless password sniffer hack tools just captures up all the data that is flowing between your computer and the router. The router, in order to maintain the connection, basically sends out a quick call between the router and the connected computer. This Address Reservation Packet should have the encryption key in it.
A program, like the Aircrack package of wireless hack programs, can take in a whole bunch of packets and store them. Another cracking program can then try to break the encryption and grab the key from the code. They'll then have the code and be able to authenticate their connection.
Note that these both basically boil down to getting ahold of your wireless password and starting their own connection.
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The Reasons for Wireless Hack Programs
Let's start with the most harmless. Bored nerds and techies are a fairly likely target. For whatever reason, they don't have access to wireless Internet. Their router might be broken, their modem may be acting up or their Internet connection may be shut down. These are the most minimal threat for wireless hacking. They just want to leech for a bit. It's annoying but not threatening.
The next step is people who want to leech off of your bandwidth because they plan to download a lot. This actually shouldn't be a problem for most American readers. Bandwidth limits in a lot of places are so high that only a very small number of users actually hit them. The wireless hacker probably fears that he'll hit his limit soon, so he uses up some of yours. This is only bad if you are also close to the limit.
If you are't handling these two benign wireless hacker motivations, then you will face something a little worse. Some people want to use your wireless connection so that their online activities cannot be easily traced back to them. This can run a whole spectrum. The most likely is just standard pirating. They don't want letter from the RIAA or the MPAA, so they'll use your connection and let you deal with any annoying problems that pop up. Scammers and hackers may also use it for this reason. The IP address will point to you and not them. Basically, anyone planning to perform an illegal activity online can use your computer as a decoy.
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There are a lot of reasons that a hacker might want to use your wireless Internet connection. If you are worried about wireless hack programs, wireless password sniffers, hack tools and other annoying hacker software that threatens your security, look here. I'll cover the reasons that someone might want to use your wireless Internet and explain the steps you can take to protect your router from being hacked.
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Why Wireless Hack Programs Are Dangerous
In case you haven't picked up on it already, you will probably want to protect your wireless Internet connection from being hacked. I covered the different wireless hack programs that can be used to gain access to your Internet connection, but I didn't cover all the damage that could be done.
I touched upon this above, but legal issues are potentially a real problem. So far, the RIAA has dropped cases that involved unsecured routers. A hacked router would involve similar issues, but you still have to deal with the legal filings and you will probably need a lawyer to cut through red tape. This is true for scams and other crimes committed using your wireless Internet. While it is unlikely you'd face actual conviction or arrest, you will have to handle the issues surrounding the case and an investigation into your life while you clear your name. So that's a big reason to keep it secure.
Leaching in general is a bit of an annoying problem too. If they're using your bandwidth, then it's going to slow down your connection. This is particularly annoying for gamers, since it can greatly hurt your ping, and therefore, your performance in the game.
Finally, it's just not a good idea to have people poking around your router with an encryption key. Without much more effort, they could get ahold of some passwords and other information.
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Securing Your Router Against Wireless Hack Programs
As usual, I wait until you're worried to spit out the tips. Note that in general, you cannot fully protect yourself as long as your wireless Internet is up and running. You can certainly make it really annoying for anyone to try and hack your wireless router though.
The first one is to set up a good encryption key on your router. As I covered, WEP and WPA-PSK have been fairly well cracked. Pick the highest encryption settings possible. Preferably something with 128-bit encryption. As a side note, do not leave it public. That is just crazy, unless you really want to provide a hotspot for the neighborhood. You just have to set up the encryption key once and then look it up anytime you need to add a new device. It's not a big deal and most routers hold your hand during setup.
By setting up a good encryption key, you're ahead of them game. You don't need to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun the guy next to you. If you're well encrypted, then they probably won't waste their time on your router.
While you're at it, change the password on the router. Don't just leave it as admin:admin, or whatever your default is. There are several lists out there that cover all of the default passwords for routers. If early efforts fail, then the next step for wireless hacking is to see if the password is still the default. If it is, then they can gain access to the router itself and just copy the encryption key that way.
The next step is to check your router's other settings. Can you set it up to only allow a few authentication attempts before it shuts down or locks the new person out? If so, then do it. That will prevent brute force efforts. One incredibly handy function is MAC filtering. Each computer has a unique MAC address and some routers allow you to only allow access to certain named MAC addresses. If you can do this, turn it on and only allow your few devices. This is probably the best protection that you can realistically get without much effort. If their MAC address is locked out and the router's password is something difficult, then they will definitely move on to easier routers. It is possible to make their MAC address look like something different and even mimic yours, but it's another annoyance for them.
Finally, if you're really worried, then remember to shut off and unplug your router when you aren't using it. You'll save a few pennies on the power bill and it will be pretty hard to hack a wireless network that isn't online. If you're really concerned about wireless password sniffer hack tools getting ahold of your Internet connection, then it's a good safety step.