Category Archives: Networking

Networking

Wifi Router as a Range Extender (Repeater Bridge)

Problem.  2800 square foot home and 1.5 acres with a path into the woods and a deck.  No way one single WiFi router can cover all this turf.

The other day I saw a Netgear XR700 Router on Facebook Marketplace for $100.  The XR700 is a rebranded Netgear R9000 aimed at gamers.  It is also a LOT cheaper than the R9000 which tips the scales at about $450.  But again, except for the case…….it is the exact same router.

Netgear XR700

Believe it or not it does cover almost all the turf in my big home but there is ONE dead spot in the house that I suspect has one too many walls and doors in the way of the wifi signal.

And when I set on the deck in the woods the wifi signal is “seen” but simply not usable at all.

So I decided to pull an old trick out of my hat.

 

I used DD-WRT firmware on my Netgear XR700 and I installed it on my old router which is a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 router.  I used something called a Repeater Bridge on the Wireless Interface to extend the range of my current router.

Let’s go over how this is done:

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Network Security with PfSense

I haven’t written anything for a while because I retired and sold and bought a house and moved at all the same time.

During setup of the new home though I had to redo my internet setup and start fresh with a newly mapped network.  If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a million times………If you hook a store bought router to your Cable Company modem you are begging to be hacked.  Your security is non-existent. 

This is not just my opinion.  It’s a stone cold fact.  To have any element of actual security you need a hardware firewall or a router with custom firmware such as DD-WRT or OpenWRT.  OR BOTH.

This is where PfSense comes in.  It is a hardware firewall which routes all your internet traffic through its very capable interface.  And it is far from being just a firewall as well.  It is a full fledged network Operating System.

The easiest way to get some decent network security is to buy a pre-configured appliance.

Netgate 1100

This is the Netgate 1100 and it comes in at a cost of about $179.

Yeah, that’s a little bit of cabbage but do you really want to protect your network or not?

You can build your own appliance and there is no shortage of mini computers built just for hardware firewalls.

PfSense is a free download and there are several other firewall OS’s out there that are free and also Open Sourced.

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Network Security – Part Deux

Your network probably is comprised of the modem/wifi router provided by your Internet Service Provider.  Most people I know are configured this way.

This is the ABSOLUTE, WORST POSSIBLE security scenario there is.   It is typically extremely old, and unmaintained in terms of software / firmware.  And you probably lease the equipment from them for $10 a month or something.  That $50 hunk of hardware has already netted them hundreds of dollars from you……..if not thousands.

So the smart play is to go buy your own router and modem.  Walmart and Target sell them and it’s more than likely that is where you will go.  Or Amazon.   First of all you cannot just hook a modem to your home.  You have to call the cable company and ask them to “provision” it.   They have to apply the settings to it to allow it to work on their network.  There is NO WAY for you to do this.  They have to do it.   if there are firmware updates for your modem you have to call the cable company and tell them to apply them or “re-provision” your modem.   You can have a secure router (HA!) and have a crappy modem which will allow you to be compromised.

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Revisiting Routers and Security and Alternative Firmware

I get on a network security / router security kick every now and again.   For the last week or so I have been reconfiguring my main router.  I have a Netgear R7800 that was running a firmware called OpenWRT.   I prefer to run Open Source firmware on my routers for a couple of reasons.

  1. Users can view the code.  When you buy a router at Walmart or Target or from Amazon or wherever it comes with the manufacturers proprietary firmware.  You have no idea what is in the code.   Also their goals are to make money, and make the router as simple as possible so you don’t call their paid support centers.  Complex configurations that are safer cause connection problems.
  2. There is a community of people who submit security and performance changes to the Open Source firmwares.   When exploits are discovered they are patched.   When is the last time you got a firmware update on your home router?

Router exploits and bugs are SCARY and all too frequent.  Here is a good resource where recent bugs against routers and modems are listed from news articles.  Scroll down that list.  I bet you won’t get far before you see a recent exploit discovered against your home router.

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Firewalls And BIOS’s And Coreboot

I’m into computer security a little bit and always striving to learn more.  I’m also a firm believer in Open Source software.  In Proprietary software you don’t know really know what’s going on.  Case in point:  Alexa, Siri, Hey Google.  They say it isn’t spying on you but you know that it is.

With Open Source software you can view the code and see if any hanky panky is going on.

There are a lot of Open Source Operating Systems such a Linux.  But here’s the catch.  You run your Open Source OS which gets launched by a firmware (BIOS – Built In Operating System) which is PROPRIETARY!.  Also it can prevent you from installing a 3rd party device such as a battery, or charging brick.   Major exploits such as HeartBleed (remember that scare a few years ago) live and breathe in the firmware.   You can slick the OS, change the hard drive all you want but you are still compromised AND YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT.

Let’s lay out a scenario.
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Over The Air Television

Some time back I did the math and decided that full blown cable or satellite TV just wasn’t worth it. High speed internet, Hulu, Netflix, and Sling are still way cheaper per year than cable TV. Also if there is that one or two shows that you can’t live without in this day and age you can buy them on Amazon Prime or Apple TV and it is still cheaper than a year of cable TV.

Of course now that broadcast, over the air television is transmitted in digital you can improve your content simply by sticking an antenna up. I’ve run the gamut of indoor amplified antennas and suffice to say I’m in a poor region for broadcast TV. I can typically get 7 or so channels at my home, 6 of which are mostly worthless. So I opted to get a Mohu Sky 60 Antenna to stick in my attic.

Right away I got a slew of channels including the two major players I needed. Fox and CBS (FOOTBALL!)

Although they claim the Mohu Sky 60 is omni-directional it is very much a directional antenna. and unfortunately for me positioning it to get great reception on CBS screws up Fox. Still I’m convinced there is a magic location that will pull it all in with ease. I know it is there, because I’ve found it several times however when I mount the antenna the magic spot loses its magic. The Mohu Sky 60 also comes with a preamplifier WHICH IS WORTHLESS. The antenna performs better in every respect without it (in my application).

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FreeNAS Server

A few years back I built a home server based on information mostly obtained from this blog  I never really knew how bad I needed this server until it went down about a month ago with a motherboard failure.   My server was built with these components:

And  of course I’m using the operating system FreeNAS which is free and is pretty much the best Server OS there is.  Yeah, that’s debatable, I know.

I also use something called OpenMediaVault on the little teeny tiny piece of the server you can see in the right side of the picture.

The little piece of the server to the left is my backup to the backup server. Can’t be too safe!

 

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RSPDuo Running over Network on RSP_TCP

I just bought an RSPDuo from SDRPlay and I wanted to see if I could hook it up so I could access it from the network just like I do my Airspy HF+ on SpyServer.

So you dig around on Google and you find out that sure enough you can however it wasn’t as easy as it appeared. Believe me, it never is.  I am running my RSPDuo from an Ubuntu 18.04 laptop.  In SDRPlay’s defense they have a Raspberry Pi image on their downloads page and this stuff may already be configured. I won’t swear to that though. Laptops have a hell of a lot more OOMPH than a Raspberry Pi though and I just like messing around in Linux.

Lets get started:

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Making Your Refrigerator SMART

I have an old refrigerator in my garage which I suspected was a power hog.  I bought a Sonoff S31 Power Monitoring outlet and flashed it with custom firmware (Tasmota) and blogged about that here.

I’ve since figured out you can do a WHOLE LOT MORE with a Tasmota flashed Sonoff S31. I figure there are two important things you’d want to know about an old refrigerator.

  1. Is it running?
  2. Has the door been left open?

Both answers can be tackled with home automation.  I use the EXCELLENT program HomeAssistant.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

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