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Hacking the spot, The Hotspot that is! March 10, 2008

Posted by Ted Summers in : Technical , trackback

Being the technophile that I am, I often travel with two Laptops one for Windows and the other for Linux. On weekends my girlfriend and son often go with me to the local book store for study time. They too also have their own laptops, which brings our total number of laptops to four.

Now the problem is that at the locations where we travel, there is mostly only paid /secured Internet access available via Hotspots. Making matters worse most hotspot providers only allow you to use one computer system per hotspot account. So with four laptops that would normally mean that I would need four hotspot accounts. So with the average hotspot provider costing $20 per month that would come to $960 per year to cover the total of four laptops we carry and use on a regular basis.

Surely there must be an easier way, and of course the answer is yes there is! The solution to this problem is “ICS” or Internet Connection Sharing. Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) allows two or more networked computers to share a single Internet connection, whether it is DSL, ISDN, Cable, T1, satellite, or dial-up. Using ICS and a small $50 Pocket /Travel Router is all you need. In my case I purchased a small D-Link G730ap router. The router is smaller than a deck of playing cards and can also receive its power from your Computer’s USB port. The device can also act as an access point, router, or wireless client.

Dlink AP

The D-Link G730ap handles WEP, WPA, and WPA2 Encryption for your security needs. The device can be configured using most Web Browsers. For those who like to try before they buy, D-Link offers and online emulator at the link below:

http://support.dlink.com/emulators/dwlg730ap/

If you tried the emulator, then you can see just how easy the device can be to setup. I found setup /configuration to be easy and it only took me 7 quick easy steps to accomplish, which I will try to outline in what follows. The basic topology is outlined below in the following diagram:

Diagram

Step 1: Connect power to your Access Point (D-Link G730ap)

Step 2: Set device to Access Point mode

Step 3: Connect Ethernet Cable to Access and Computer

Step 4: Configure Access Point. (SSID, Encryption, Passwords, etc…) Note **DHCP should be off**

Step 5: Using your Computer, connect to your Hotspot Provider and Login as you would normally.

Step 6: Configure your Computer’s Wireless Adapter for ICS (Internet Connection Sharing). Make sure to select network that sharing is to be allowed with from drop down menu. (See Screenshot for Windows Example)

Screenshot

Step 7: Attach your other Computers (Wireless Clients) to your private Access Point. These clients should now have Internet Access provided to them via your Computer.

That is basically all there is to it, you have just hacked the Hotspot. More advanced users can also enable /disable services that they do not want to share. If you are still unsure about ICS and use Windows then check the link below where there is even a video how-to:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306126

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