Sunday, September 23, 2012

Home debugging, part 1: hacked wifi?

And now for something completely different!

I'm at home in Australia for a few weeks* visiting my parents, so obviously I've been doing a little home PC maintenance. Between my dad, sister and brother they are able to pretty well manage everything, so it hasn't been too bad.

My most stunning accomplishment has been setting up a Windows Homegroup so that they can all send documents to the printer from their laptops and the second desktop, instead of kicking off anyone currently using the PC with the printer for a minute.

More interestingly, a couple months ago, my sister rang me early in the morning to say that she thought the wifi had been hacked. I rolled my eyes and asked what was happening, and she said that overnight, all the phones (which get carried in and out of the house, and therefore off the wireless network) had stopped connecting to the local wifi and said the password was incorrect. The laptops which had stayed in the house were still connected, but the laptop that had left the house that day was also unable to connect. When I directed her to the router admin page, which according to Dad's notes still had the default password, she was unable to log in. It appeared that she was right, and someone had indeed managed to change the password on their wifi network. I gave her instructions for resetting the router and setting the network back up, and left her to it.

Fast forward: I've been home for about a week. I'm testing some phone stuff on two different phones. As each phone sits idle, it disconnects from the wireless network, then seamlessly reconnects when I wake it up. Until one doesn't. It says the password is wrong. Then the other phone won't reconnect either. I go find my sisters iPhone and it also won't connect - password incorrect. (I have no interest in disconnecting my laptop to test it as well.) It appears that whatever happened before, has happened again.I go find my sister's documentation from that incident: she didn't change any of the passwords involved, including the router sitting on the default password. So yea, I guess it's not inconceivable that someone got into it again? I reset the router, set back up the network and the voip line, and this time change the router password.

I still find it a little unbelievable that someone would have gotten into their wireless network twice, in this random corner of the suburbs, but I can't come up with another explanation.

*Yes, it was incredibly inconvenient for my house to flood days before I left on an international trip. 

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