decrypting wireless packets

I made a few discoveries this weekend. First, a wireless access point has popped up in my neighborhood recently that is not encrypted, as a quick test of Netstumbler showed me. Second, my newest used laptop appears to be equipped with an Atheros card. Oh joy! I might just have to dual-boot that guy into Linux!

I hopped on the wireless network to poke around, but the Netgear AD password had been changed, and the one other system on the network was sending very few packets across. In fact, all the packets I picked up, with few exceptions, were not being decoded by Wireshark properly. They keep coming up as a Belkin MAC and something about broken packets. I’m wondering if this is something like a Netgear/Belkin combination using proprietary “speed-boosting” which is mucking up the packets. I fired up the newest Cain as well, just in case something interesting flew by.

I’m not really sure since I’ve not seen it before, but I’ve left the laptop on the network and will check it out over the next week or two. I do have an Internet connection through it. Windows Network Neighborhood gave me the computer name which happens to be a girl’s name, and the AP SSID was a last name. Tonight I need to check what IP I have so I can get the service provider and IP to do some external testing, although I suspect I won’t find anything useful. Given some Google searches and any possible traffic that I can decrypt, that is quite a bit of information to leak already.

At any rate, it is fun to have a spare system that I can just dedicate to wireless stuff. I’ve been wondering what to do with the system, as it is a little too big to properly carry anywhere (about 10 lbs and only fits in my backpack) for real portability, especially since I have far lighter systems. But now I think I have at least one use for it as a wireless workhorse.