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If router security is not activated or if the owner deactivates it for convenience, it creates a free hotspot. Since most 21st-century laptop PCs have wireless networking built in (see Intel "Centrino" technology), they don't need a third-party adapter such as a PCMCIA Card or USB dongle. Built-in wireless networking might be enabled by default, without the owner realizing it, thus broadcasting the laptop's accessibility to any computer nearby.
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MAC filtering is effective only for small residential (SOHO) networks, since it provides protection only when the wireless device is "off the air". Any 802.11 device "on the air" freely transmits its unencrypted MAC address in its 802.11 headers, and it requires no special equipment or software to detect it. Anyone with an 802.11 receiver (laptop and wireless adapter) and a freeware wireless packet analyzer can obtain the MAC address of any transmitting 802.11 within range. In an organizational environment, where most wireless devices are "on the air" throughout the active working shift, MAC filtering provides only a false sense of security since it prevents only "casual" or unintended connections to the organizational infrastructure and does nothing to prevent a directed attack.