Better Safe than Sorry?
August 26, 2010 10:19 PM   Subscribe

How can we protect our Macintosh network from an immature, if not unstable, ISP tech?

Today we had to ask a very badly mannered ISP tech to leave our home. Unfortunately he already had our network ID and password. While we were reporting the incident and arranging another call the agent on the phone told us our area network just went down. A few minutes later the bad tech called to ask whether he left his netbook at our place when we recall very clearly his taking it with him.

We didn't think much about it until we returned from dinner and found our local network behaving very strangely. It dropped, we reset the router, it dropped again…this ocurred several times. Fearing the worst, I created a new network with WPA2 (we have an older Mac in the fleet,) an entirely new ID, key, and turned off SSID publishing. I changed our router access login but every time I try to disable remote access to the WAN I get a server error, perhaps normal to protect against configuration mistakes? After the changes our network is fast and stable. A few hours later something told me to launch WakeOnLan and see how many devices were up. My husband's big iMac is now called "WORKGROUP/IMAC" (I never use all caps) and it has a Windows logo next to it instead of the Mac logo we'd previously selected. WOL loses icons all the time but it reverts to the default, never to a custom/Windows icon.

This makes us wonder whether it's possible for someone from our ISP under these circumstances to access any data on our computers? My husband does have file sharing turned on. Are there any tools I can use on a Mac or iPhone/iPad to look for unauthorized access? Beyond reporting our concerns are there any other steps we can take to make sure this particular tech doesn't hurt us? We even speculated that he could have reported his netbook lost so he could do bad things with it and not be held responsible. He seemed pretty rash to us. We hope these are all circumstantial events and we have nothing to worry about but we'd like to learn all we can and not put our heads in the sand.
posted by Mertonian to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Same way you protect your network from anyone else, most of which you've already done. every time the WAN drops call the ISP, document, document, document. You will want to disable remote management or ask the ISP to.

All things considered you're probably not worth a random technicians impotent wrath.
posted by iamabot at 10:44 PM on August 26, 2010

Your wireless network being flaky just sounds like your wireless network is being flaky. Could be something he did, but I doubt it's malicious.

Changing your wireless network password is useful if you think he'll be near your house, but I think you'd notice that. More unusual is that you "can't disable remote access" to your network- I'm not sure what you mean by that. Does your router have a setting that puts one computer on your network in a DMZ? Is there a setting that allows remote configuration of your router? Is this your ISP's router, or your own, and what model is it?

I'm not sure what WakeOnLan is, if you mean it's a program. Have you used it before?

Can somebody access the data on your computers? Yes, conceivably, if the tech put one of your computers in the DMZ of your network and enabled file sharing. He'd still probably need an account on the computer, or to know your computer password. If you're concerned that this is a possibility, one temporary solution would be to enable the firewall on any computer you think might have data accessible. In 10.6, you can do that by going to the Security preference pane, selecting the Firewall tab, and pressing "Start Firewall" - then go to "Advanced..." and check "Block all incoming connections". Note any dialogs that come up requesting permission to accept incoming connections.

All that said, try not to panic- computers can also just do weird things, and while disgruntled techs are sometimes capable of doing Weird Shit like this, you can always unplug the network while you look into anything that seems crazy.
posted by aaronbeekay at 11:48 PM on August 26, 2010

My husband's big iMac is now called "WORKGROUP/IMAC" (I never use all caps) and it has a Windows logo next to it instead of the Mac logo we'd previously selected.

Is windows sharing turned on in your network preferences? If so, turn it off.
posted by chillmost at 1:40 AM on August 27, 2010

Sorry, I meant in your sharing preferences.
posted by chillmost at 1:51 AM on August 27, 2010

Windows sharing is definitely NOT turned on. We have no Windows on our network. We live in an apartment complex so we would not notice him nearby and remember that our network went down moments after he left. We're not worried, just want to be smart about this.
posted by Mertonian at 7:55 AM on August 27, 2010

« Older Friend having difficulty finding work   |   Make 'em bleed. My ears that is. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.