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I've set up WPA encryption on my WiFi network with a passphrase. This passphrase is visible in plain text when I connect to my router at http://192.168.1.1. But if someone doesn't know this passphrase, he shouldn't be able to get onto my network in the first place, to be able to go to 192.168.1.1, right? I haven't changed the default username and password for my router, and this can be easily looked up online based on manufacturer. So I guess my question is, if someone doesn't have the passphrase, can he even get to the router admin page at 192.168.1.1. Or is there another way he can gain access to my network?

The reason I ask is, I am currently getting messages like "another machine is using the IP address 192.168.1.2, please try again later".

Thanks! -MT

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migrated from serverfault.com Oct 2 '10 at 10:41

This question came from our site for professional system and network administrators.

3 Answers 3

If they have physical access, then yes they can get access - otherwise no. You should still change the default anyway though - just for good measures.

I've done this before with a friends router - he was insistent the wireless network was secure and said I wouldn't be able to get in to it (which I knew was true). He went to make a drink, I plugged a LAN cable into the router and logged in to the web interface with a guess at what the default username/password might be (tut tut Netgear!). By the time he had come back with the drink, I had got the wireless key from the admin page of the router and was browsing wirelessly.

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haha nice. yeah, no physical access in this case, though... –  mindthief Oct 1 '10 at 23:29

Routers have (at least) two interfaces. If it's visible from the internet side, then... yes.

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The WiFi router is connected to a modem which is the one that's actually connected to the outside. So would the WiFi router have a public IP in this case? There is only one LAN cable coming out of the modem, which connects to the Wifi router, not sure if this means that the external IP of the modem would "transfer" to the router... –  mindthief Oct 1 '10 at 23:26
    
also, if somebody in the area sees my Wifi network on his list of available networks, is there any way for him to obtain the public IP address of my network starting with just the name of the network? I guess he can try to join it, and then sniff the network packets to see what IP address his system is communicating with? HmmMMMmMMmmm.... –  mindthief Oct 1 '10 at 23:46
    
@Mindthief - The router's ip address is the public ip address assigned to it. One would have to connect to your wireless network in order to get the public address. Change the default username and password to the router. There are tools that can access default router's and change them automatically. –  Ramhound Jan 11 '12 at 17:31

It's generally a bad idea to expect that the factory defaults will keep you safe. There's always a chance that the router's OS will have a vulnerability (now or discovered in the future) allowing somebody to weasel their way in. Unless you plan on pursuing a career as a security admin (or a black hat), you're not going to know whether or not that setup is safe. You're stuck minimizing your risk with due diligence. That means:

  • Change the default password!
  • Check for firmware updates once or twice a year (and install them)

Since the effort is minimal, and the possible (if unlikely) alternative is the loss of all data on your computers, I think it's worth doing.

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