Need help solving a MAC address mystery

By KarenMcAl
Jun 2, 2015
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  1. I live in a condo complex where I'm surrounded by wi-fi connections. I have a very rare neurological condition which causes me to have seizures if I am exposed to certain wireless devices. It has nothing to do with the GHz so we think it's related to some other variable like modulation, harmonics, etc. I don't have an expensive spectrum analyzer so I can't measure the variables, but it has only happened when I was exposed to hotspots, not regular wi-fi modems.

    A few weeks ago a neighbor's computer started showing a very strong signal related to an ad hoc network and I have had some pretty bad episodes (it's kind of like epilepsy - some people have seizures from flashing lights, I have them from certain radio transmission). I mentioned the situation and he said he had no idea what I was talking about. I gave him a printout showing how to turn off an ad hoc network and that night the signal disappeared (and I finally got some sleep), but then it showed back up the next day again. I need to make my case so that he will make more of an effort to stop the auto setup that's apparently occurring and hoped some of you might be able to help.

    I'm attaching a screen shot taken with Acrylic WiFi. The SSDI says SETUP and as you can see, the signal is significantly stronger than anything else around me. The MAC address says unknown when I do vendor searches. It's changed at least twice. Those specs were typical of older MacBooks with 802.11b band. Do any of you know of other devices that might have those same specs? And is there anyway to permanently disable the setup so it doesn't automatically launch? He claims he doesn't have an ad hoc network and apparently doesn't realize what's happening.

    I had just renewed my lease, so moving isn't an option. And I can't tear up the carpet to put down shielding, so that's not an option, either. I just need more information so that when I discuss this with him again I can have the details I need to convince him he can do something about it.

    Thanks - 5-27-15 Wi-Fi Analysis.jpg
  2. KarenMcAl

    KarenMcAl TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Oops...meant SSID is listed as SETUP.
  3. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,158   +599

  4. KarenMcAl

    KarenMcAl TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks - I'll pass that on to my neighbor. I gave him a similar how-to printout and the signal did go off for a day after that, but it's back on again. So he must have read it and followed the instructions, but there's some kind of auto-enable, maybe whenever he turns on the wi-fi for his laptop. Since it's an open network, if I knew how to access it and turn it off myself, I would. There would be no privacy issues because it's never even been set up. He says he only uses his Comcast wi-fi connection and no ad hoc network.
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,158   +599

    Because there are security issues with ad hoc networks, they are NOT a default configuration nor automatically created.
    I would suspect he made the change which turned it off, but forgot to save the configuration.
  6. That's very helpful. I'll try to talk to him this weekend. I was wondering if one of his kids or a visiting friend might have turned it on initially. He doesn't know what an ad hoc network is.
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,158   +599

    Double check that he has changed the default router login password !!!
    they are all known and if remote management(RM) is active (hint: should not be!!) then anything is possible.

    Notce: that's two concurrent conditions must be true to create the exposure and normally we would assess that to be a low probability. Default password is highly likely however so this imo reduces to a single issue, RM.

    Another independent exposure is allowing UPnP in the router, default should be no, but if you're going back to him with documentation, you might as try to make it ONE trip.

    Best wishes;

    PS: Wife has a low sensitivity to WiFi-rf so we use a timer to auto power off/on for beddy-by time :wink:

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