Is your password “password”?

After arriving at my timeshare resort on Saturday afternoon, unloading, shopping, and making coffee jello >;-0 Joann and I sat down with our MacBooks to catch up with the world. The venue provides free wifi, though signal strength depends on how far one’s unit is from the router located in the clubhouse. So I was happy to find our unit was practically on top of it, and I was getting a strong signal on my iPhone…

Until I discovered that while I had an equally strong signal on my MacBook, I was NOT getting out to the internet :( Joann was fine with hers, so I suspected something about my somewhat newer OS (Snow Lion) was different. I found that unlike her I wasn’t getting a domain name server IP in my DHCP config from the router, though it was assigning me an IP (translation – my Mac wasn’t being told where to look in order to translate a web address like “Google.com” into the numeric IP address the guts of the web uses to shuttle data around).

I looked to see what Joann’s Mac was using for a name server IP – it was something I wasn’t expecting – 192.168.1.1, which is the usual address of the wireless router itself. Because I’m a geek, my next thought was to learn more about what was happening on the router. And because I figure it’s always worth a try, I pointed my browser at the router’s address.

This brought up a login window – which was good, because it at least confirmed that I was connected to the router. What was bad (for the resort) was I tried the most simple login combination one would expect for it: username = admin, password = password… and I got in!

Because I wasn’t trying to be evil, I just looked at the settings and logged out. Further tweaking on my Mac eventually resolved the issue. I will stop at the office and attempt to communicate to the staff why they should change the password, so that some less scrupulous person (e.g., a bored teen visitor) won’t mess it up for everyone else.

Moral for you: if any internet-connecting device you buy has a non-unique password that allows it to be configured (e.g., modem/router, smartphone, mifi, game console) change it to prevent losing control of it to a stranger…

 

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