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Posted on 2014-01-10
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I recently purchased a new desktop (Gateway DX4860) with a Ralink (RT3090??) wireless lan card. I presently do not have  network--simply use Comcast as my ISP with a wired connection between the modem and the PC. With the antenna attached the wireless card "sees" perhaps 15 wireless networks in my apartment complex. My concern is security. If my set-up can "see" approximately 15 wireless networks, obviously my SSID can be seen by approx. the same number of networks. My question: do wireless LAN cards contain security? If so, is it adequate? If not, how does someone secure a basic set-up such as the one just described?
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Question by:johnb121
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Dave Baldwin earned 672 total points
ID: 39773025
You only have an SSID if you are operating as an access point of some sort.  Usually that's the wireless router.  If you're just set up as a client (which would be normal), you don't have an SSID and they can't 'see' you.  The networks you're seeing are the routers that are broadcasting their SSIDs.  Unless you try to make a connection, you are just receiving their broadcasts.
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by:Miftaul
Miftaul earned 664 total points
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My concern is security. If my set-up can "see" approximately 15 wireless networks, obviously my SSID can be seen by approx. the same number of networks.
By Default, Wireless LAN cards only act as clients. They don't have SSID, they look for SSIDs to associate with. Here your laptop is not seen by anyone, it doesn't have SSID.
We can configure a Wireless LAN card to operate in AD-hoc wireless, it will then broadcast SSID. We sometimes do it when we're on the go and want to connect mobile devices to the laptop for syncing or internet sharing.

My question: do wireless LAN cards contain security? If so, is it adequate? If not, how does someone secure a basic set-up such as the one just described?
Wireless security policies are mainly implemented on the wireless router/AP. Wireless Clients doesn't require any additional security configuration.
I would say, turn off the Wireless not because of the security but to save some energy on the laptop battery.
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by:Perarduaadastra
ID: 39773176
To put Miftaul's analysis in a nutshell, if you aren't using wireless then your laptop is invisible to any wireless networks.

If you are using wireless then the security method used is determined by the access point to which you're connecting, and current WLAN adapters will support all of those methods.

Turning off the wireless does indeed save a bit of power, but it's also a great way to protect yourself against WLAN security threats, especially if you're not using it...
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by:gheist
gheist earned 664 total points
ID: 39773788
Network cards do not contain security. Your operating system is expected to have it.
Wireless client presents no security hole, but it is fairly easy for windows beginner to connect to open access point and call it home network.
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by:johnb121
ID: 39774282
thank you for responding. when you say "your OS is expected to have it(security)" what precisely do you mean?
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by:gheist
ID: 39774402
I mean that preinstalled windows has some firewall by default (and easy way to make mistake and disable it)
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