An iPad stand, a WiFi access point, and a honeypot

Gibbs has found an iPad stand he really likes, a WiFi access point that performs well, and a tool for convincing management that security matters

I've checked out many iPad stands over the last few months and I just found what I think is one of the very best: The Uprise 360 produced by Hub Innovations. This is a dead simple design which your iPad (version 2 or 3) snaps into and you can rotate it to portrait or landscape as required. It's easy to remove the iPad when you need to and that's it ... as I said, it's dead simple and does the job. For $39.95 the Uprise 360 produced by Hub Innovations Uprise 360 gets a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5.

Uprise 360

Now switching gears to a problem that seems to be endemic with all low- to mid-range WiFi access points -- they seem to "burn out." Perhaps it's because they're always on and they just slowly fry themselves.

[digression] Did you know that computers run on smoke? You doubt me? Then why, when smoke leaks out, do they stop working? [/digression]

Anyway, I had a slowly expiring wireless access point -- a D-Link DIR-655 -- that's been running for the last three years and over the last few weeks it kept getting "hung up". The access point appears to be operating but it stops passing traffic from the wireless network to the wired network.

So, time to break out a new access point and, after rummaging around in the vast warehouses of the Gibbs Universal Industries Secret Underground Bunker, I unearthed an Amped Wireless R20000G High Power Wireless-N 600mW Gigabit Dual Band Router which claims a potential coverage of 10,000 square feet.

Amped Wireless R20000G High Power Wireless-N 600mW Gigabit Dual Band Router

This device is an impressive piece of engineering inside a standard sized enclosure. It features dual 600mW 2.4GHz amplifiers as well as dual 5.0GHz amplifiers combined with dual high gain 5dBi antennas.

The four wired Ethernet ports are all 10/100/1000Mbps (including the WAN/modem) port and there is also a USB port so you can share USB storage devices directly from the access point. At this point I'm thinking that the only physical thing missing is a gear shift and a sump pump.

For wireless security, the Amped R20000G provides the usual suite of services: WEP, WPA, WPA2, and WPA Mixed, as well as the now known to be vulnerable Wi-Fi Protected Setup or WPS which the R20000G has enabled by default and which you should immediately disable.

To return to the 10,000 square foot coverage claim: Resorting to basic math, the distance achievable with the Amped should be pi * r^2 = 10,000 so (10,000/pi)^-2 = 56.41 feet which is better, in theory, than I was getting with the D-Link.

In practice it's also mostly better. So far I seem to lose my WiFi connection much less frequently and the performance appears to be better (overall it appears that video streams better through the Amped).

I've got more tests to run (such as watching the Sopranos via HBO Go on my iPad) but the performance and reliability appears to be much better than many of my previous access points, including my poor almost dead D-Link.

My only complaint about the Amped R20000G - and it's a pretty big one - is the device's user interface.

This UI is naive because even when you've setup the system clock and WiFi SSIDs and other configuration settings the default "Smart Setup Wizard" will always offer you the original factory defaults rather than showing you whatever values you've already setup. Properly engineered after the initial configuration the wizard would be an option rather than the default starting point. The UI is, by far, the worst aspect of this product.

Priced at a reasonable $170, the Amped Wireless R20000G gets a Gearhead rating of 4 out of 5.

Finally, have you ever wondered how many hacker attacks go on each day? If you have, you really should reframe that question to how many attacks are going on right now!

The Honeynet Project's HoneyMap

The Honeynet Project is "a leading international 501c3 non-profit security research organization, dedicated to investigating the latest attacks and developing open source security tools to improve Internet security. With chapters around the world, our volunteers have contributed to fight again malware (such as Confickr), discovering new attacks and creating security tools used by businesses and government agencies all over the world. The organization continues to be on the cutting edge of security research by working to analyze the latest attacks and educating the public about threats to information systems across the world."

To this end the chaps at the Honeynet Project have built a fascinating tool: The HoneyMap - "a real-time world map which visualizes attacks captured by honeypots of the Honeynet Project". 

The presentation is a map of the world displaying the project's "honeypots", fake targets that are inviting attacks, and the map shows in real time which honeypots are being attacked (only the current Chrome and Firefox browsers work reliably at present). The level of activity is, to say the least, sobering.

If you want to convince your management about how serious the hacking threat is, show them this site ... your security budget should, at least, double.

Gibbs feels secure in Ventura, Calif. Defend yourself to and follow him on Twitter (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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