Wi-Fi at the Wynn

I stayed at the Wynn Las Vegas for Labor Day weekend and used their Wi-Fi to watch some U.S. Open tennis matches. The most interesting part wasn't the performance, security or price, but the location tracking used for billing.

A long weekend in Las Vegas can be a good time, especially when you stay at one of the nicer hotels. Wynn Las Vegas definitely fits that description. For those that are unfamiliar with Las Vegas, Steve Wynn is something of a deity out there. The first hotel he built was The Mirage back in 1989, which managed to out-Caeser Caesar's from right next door; something that was thought to be impossible at the time. After building up something of an empire on the west side of The Strip, Wynn sold the Mirage properties (which included Treasure Island and Bellagio) to MGM Grand and bought the Desert Inn. He tore down the Desert Inn in order to build Wynn Las Vegas, which competes with Bellagio for upper-end clientele (read: gamblers).

When basic rooms run $350/night and the nightclub next door charges a $100 cover, your Wi-Fi better be good. And with the Wynn, it is. My two friends and I paid the $13.99/24-hour fee in order to follow some bets we made (including a 5-man parlay) on USopen.org. The video quality was superb. They don't offer an encryption option, but, then again, who does?

The billing system they used on the network was the most interesting thing about it. On other hotel Wi-Fi networks I've sniffed, the web authentication re-direct page usually forces you to enter your room number or some type of password before you get Internet access. If you connect via Ethernet, on the other hand, you can often just click a link to have the fee charged to your room. The Wynn is the first hotel I've seen that allows you to just click a link to have the fee charged to your room even if you're using Wi-Fi. That means that they must have some type of location tracking tool hooked up to their billing system in order to ensure that the Wi-Fi access gets billed properly.

Sadly, on my weekend off I failed to live up to my reputation as a guy who sniffs Wi-Fi. There are two sniffing tests that I should've done: a location test and a MAC spoofing test. I thought about taking my laptop down the hall before connecting to see if their location-based billing system was able to track my room number even if I initiated my connection elsewhere. Then room service came with my strawberry-banana smoothie and I got lazy. My laziness also led me to connect with my laptop rather than my phone. The significance there is that my laptop can do MAC spoofing while my phone cannot. I was especially mad at myself for this one because I could've connected and spoofed so easily whilst still enjoying my smoothie.

I do have some good sniffing news coming from my trip. After seeing how lazy I can get even with a great sniffing opportunity in front of me I've decided to make things a bit easier. Normally I boot my MacBook Pro into Windows XP so that I can run WildPackets OmniPeek. Having to reboot all of the time gets annoying, though, so I ordered a D-Link DWL-G122 802.11g USB adapter so that I can run KisMAC in OS X. I already have a DWL-122 802.11b USB adapter, but very few WLANs use 802.11b anymore so KisMAC has kind of become useless to me. Once my DWL-G122 adapter arrives I'll test out it's sniffing capabilities and post the results.

My last note is that I encourage readers to send in questions, comments or anything else to me at ben@sniffwifi.com. I'm happy to post information about my own sniffing but if you all have any questions that could spice things up.


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