A Quick What, Why, and How of Hacking Routers
Hosted by Jon Kulp on 2015-05-21 is flagged as Clean and is released under a CC-BY-SA license.
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- Flashing a router with alternate firmware
- Provide additional features
- Improve performance
- Privacy (gets rid of unwanted spyware)
How: Steps for My Latest Hack
- Find used Netgear WNDR3400 router on shelf at local Goodwill store, priced at $3.99.
- Use my smartphone to check the dd-wrt database to see if this router is hackable.
- Grin broadly upon seeing the green "Yes" beside router WNDR3400.
- Double-check that power supply is included, find an AC outlet and plug in to be sure it powers on and my phone sees its ESSID. Yep and yep.
- Take router to cashier and purchase.
- Do hard reset of router to clear any previous configuration.
- Hook a laptop up to router using ethernet patch cable (turning off WiFi adapter on laptop).
- Access router's configuration in web browser at default router address of 192.168.1.1 just to confirm that it works.
- Go back to the dd-wrt router database and find the router again, then download the corresponding "mini" and the "mega" versions of dd-wrt firmware (The mega version has the most features—including USB support, which I wanted—but on many routers, including this one, you have to install the mini version first or else you could brick the router)
- Read over the dd-wrt wiki page for this specific router just to see if there's anything unusual about the hack. There's not.
- Go to the router's stock configuration page again and find the "Firmware upgrade" button.
- Click the button and choose the "mini" version of the dd-wrt firmware, and click upgrade, then wait while crossing fingers until it says firmware successfully upgraded.
- Refresh the configuration page at 192.168.1.1 and see the new dd-wrt configuration interface.
- Pat myself on the back because I have just hacked another router. Hray!
- Find the upgrade firmware area on the new dd-wrt interface, and this time choose the "mega" firmware file and submit, then wait and cross fingers as before. Celebrate when it works.
- Configure newly hacked router as wireless bridge (this is NOT going to be my main router), enable the USB and printer support, hook up our formerly-usb-only printer to the router, and configure household computers to be able to print wirelessly to the newly-networked printer.
- Enjoy kudos from appreciative family.
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Comment #1 posted on 2015-05-22T09:35:45Z by Ken Fallon
You say Tomato
I think we can reveal Jon as a British Agent. He definitely said /təˈmɑːtoʊ/
Comment #2 posted on 2015-05-27T10:34:56Z by Mark
Wanted to try this before.
I had thought about flashing a router before, now Jon gave a few ideas as to why. So now I have a D-Link DIR-601 purchased at a garage sale to experiment with. So far the experience was good, taking only 10 seconds or less to flash dd-wrt on it. Looking forward to seeing what it can do. Thanks for the tip about using a router to connect a printer to the network. Now to find a router with USB connectivity as my old printer does not have that option.
Comment #3 posted on 2015-06-01T18:43:14Z by FiftyOneFifty
Single board options
This is more of a reply to Ken Fallon's comments on the Community News than to the original audio. Ken, the Banana Pi router, with four Ethernet ports, is I believe the only single board solution if you want to build a firewall (though I'm not aware that any of the firewall distros have been ported to ARM. Ken is right, most of the single board computers (with the exception of ODroid) drive the Ethernet port via the slower USB bus, and the only way to add another Ethernet port is to use a USB adapter anyway.
Comment #4 posted on 2015-06-12T16:37:01Z by Urugami
This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time now, since my house is not set up to run wires everywhere.
I've been looking at the Gargoyle router mgmt software, based on OpenWRT, to flash onto my WRT54GL. When I'm setting up the home office, this will definitely be on the list of things to do