Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Verizon MiFi Card - Hacked to Perfection

I've had the Verizon MiFi Wireless card for just over two months. It replaces my Sprint Wireless Novatel card.

I switched for two simple reasons. The Verizon MiFi is less expensive for an unlimited plan. And the MiFi card allows me to share my internet connectivity with four of my closest friends.

The 3G network has been great. To be honest, I tried Verizon's wireless connectivity about five years ago and it sucked, so I moved to Sprint and have never failed to connect within the U.S. But Verizon's 3G network is now quite widespread, so I thought I'd take a chance.

When I cruised to Columbus, Oh and Nashville/Franklin, TN awhile back, it was the first test run for the Verizon MiFi card. As I had hoped, it performed great.

When I was moving from my house to an apartment recently, I was without internet connectivity from Comcast for some time. The Verizon MiFi 2200 did a great job of filling in.

Now . . . The nerd gets restless.

So as I use the MiFi 2200 device more and more, I notice a few things.

First, battery life is AMAZING. 4+ hours no problem. I have no idea how they do this.

Second, for a totally secure line with no wifi signal, I tether it to the USB. This charges the device and gives me "modem" access at 3G speeds.

Third, the freakin thing hybernates if I ignore it for half an hour.

So I wonder how I can get inside and play with it. Here's what I found.

- The standard IP address for the device is
- When I browse to that address, I get a nice web page. Battery life indicator: Nice. Info on IP address, etc. Nice.
- And a login screen. It takes me 3 minutes to enter "admin" as the password. This is AFTER I attempted to enter the MAC-specific password required to access the device via wifi.

Once inside the device, there are several settings that are useful.

(NOTE: Before you make ANY changes, go to the "Advanced/Config File" tab and save your device configuration. At least you'll be able to get back to where you are now.)

- You can turn off security if you wish.
- You can change the wifi channel (mine was 11 by default)
- You can choose the security encoding (WEP 64bit, WEP 128bit, WPA2 Personal/PSK (AES), or the default WPA Personal/PSK (TKIP)
- You can change the security key/password. I don't recommend this because the pw is attached to a sticker on the back of the device. No one from the internet can see the bottom of your MiFi card.

- You can change the device IP address. So if you've already got a WiFi Router in your house with the address of (extremely likely), then this won't conflict. I recommend setting this to just about anything else. The 172.16.x.x range is available as private IPs and is rarely used.

- If you want real security, you can clamp down this device to only connect with specific MAC addresses. That kicks butt, in my opinion.
- You can also limit incoming protocols to a handful of old standards. These include email, ftp, http, DNS, and VPN (plus a few more).
- You can add to this list with customized applications. Cool.

- You can disable SSID broadcast.
- You can disable the DHCP server. Kinda cool, low-tech security, especially if you've changed the IP address range.

- You can download the configuration file! Yes. Awesome. One of my "rules" is that we save the configuration of any router we're working on before we make changes. The default name is config.xml.sav. Change this to include a date, such as config20100914.xml.sav

The Advance/Diagnostics tab has some cool information, including current status, signal strength, and whether the device is operating in EVDO mode. Click on Modem Status button for this.

Port Forwarding is available under Advance/Port Forwarding. Holy smokes. This will be like Border Radio or something. But you can set up incoming traffic to go to specific devices on the network. Remember that you can only have five devices connected at once. And this is 99.9999% useless. But if you have a use, it's pretty cool.

Power Mode - This is the only real annoying thing about the MiFi 2200. It goes to sleep if you get distracted with a phone call or Andy Griffith re-run. Change "Enter Standby Mode" to Never. Battery life will drop to 4 hours. Get over it.

I have no stake in Verizon. But this little device kicks booty.

Many year ago, at SMB Nation 2.0, the hotel meeting room was filled with nerds on laptops. And every once in awhile everyone in the room would moan "Ohhhhhhh" and some would curse. I decided then and there that I would always have my own Internet when I travel.

Until July of this year, that Internet has been Sprint Wireless. Fast, reliable, awesome.

Now it is Verizon. I have canceled the Sprint card altogether and am loving the power, speed, and flexibility of the MiFi 2200 from Verizon.

(Now that I've posted this, you can expect a replacement card to be announced within 20 minutes.)

- - - - -

If there's a weakness in the information I've given you here, it's this: Anyone you share your card with will be able to browse to and enter the password "admin" to change all your settings. PLEASE go to Security/Password and change your password. You can put it on the bottom with a label maker, or put it in a text file next to the configuration file you just created.


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  1. I switched from AT&T to Verizon about 4 years ago. Why? I found I had no signal in an Iowa corn field.

    Guess who does? Not Sprint. Not T-Mobile. Certainly not AT&T. Verizon does! 4 bars! I now tether the old Blackberry for Internet, and use an Android phone exclusively. I can now work from *anywhere*. Even on the beach in Maui. ;-)

  2. and it is SO easy to get distracted watching an Andy Griffith rerun...ya know, like the one with Mr Mcgreebie, the linemen for the county...or any good Otis episode...or Floyd...sheesh, what was that guy smoking??

  3. Have I mentioned lately that you're my hero? No? Well, consider it mentioned!

  4. I'm glad your happy and I almost don't want to post this because I hate that most blog comments are negative. Having said that, I just thought I'd give you an FYI...

    1) Sprint has had MiFi cards for some time and you can get 4G cards as well if you are in 4G coverage areas (growing). No 4G access for VZW yet. Overdrive™ 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot by Sierra Wireless

    2) VZW's access isn't unlimited. It is unlimited in that you can be connected to it 24/7/365 but you get 5gb a month. Same with Sprint AFAIK. I think I read the 4G cards have a higher limit.

    3) For those who still are invested in USB / Pci express cards you can just use wi-fi sharing in Windows 7 to get the same result.

    4) One of the reasons I love my WinMo phone is the ability for it to act as a hotspot. Yes I violate my TOS by doing such but I feel like I'm violated every time I pay my bill. You can do the same with a Palm Pre or the android phones. This is especially nice on the EVO as you get a 4G hotspot. You can pay sprint for it or hack it, either way is fine with me.

    5) I don't have a 5th point.


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