[ISN] The case of the sneaky daughter and the wireless card

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Feb 1 07:24:35 EST 2006


By Ron Nutter

My 16 year old daughter has wireless Internet access with her notebook
computer. My wife and I control the signal by putting the modem on a
timer, thus not allowing her to access the Internet after 12:00 am.  
She's a high-school student and we want her off the Internet after
midnight. However, she's learned to access other available Wi-Fi
signals, so us turning off the modem does no good whatsoever. Other
than confiscating her wireless card, is there any way we can keep her
off the Internet after her curfew? Is there a way to block incoming
signals to our home? Or is there a way to program her computer
blocking her access to Wi-Fi other than our secured network? 
--Dan Meyerson

If her notebook computer is running XP Home, one option would be to
enable logging in by username. Give her username enough to do what she
needs do to but restrict her from making any changes such as selecting
alternate access points. Depending on how the wireless card driver is
written, this might be enough to prevent her from changing to another
access point. This assumes that the SSID of your access point is
unique and not running the default used by the manufacturer when it
was made.

This will also give you another possible option. Use the XP's
Scheduled Tasks function to run batch files to disable (and then
re-enable) the wireless card at set times. It is possible to use one
script to run automatically when she logs in and check to see if the
network card needs to be enabled or disabled based on time.

Another option is to put a hub or switch between the access point and
put that hub/switch on a timer. When the power is shut off to the
hub/switch, she will still see the access point but can't go anywhere.  
If you need to use the access point within the house when you don't
want your daughter to be able to use it, check within the firmware of
the access point to see what kind of access control is available to
control when a given workstation can and cannot access the Internet.

Not all access points have this, so you may need to change access
point vendors if your current access point doesn't allow this.

If you have a friend who is an Amateur Radio operator and has
experience with the Oscar satellites, he may have another option for
you. Some of the newer satellites can operate in the 2.4 Ghz range.  
See if he has a signal source for this frequency range. What you are
looking for is a signal source that is weak enough to not disturb your
neighbors wireless access but to effectively make your daughters
notebook "deaf" to hearing other access points. This signal source
would need to be placed in a location close to where the notebook is
normally used in order to be effective. It could be placed on a timer
to only have power during the hours when you want to restrict wireless

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