Power line conversation fork

Continuing the discussion from Home network security & privacy recommendations:

@lithosphere9 You are the first person I’ve encountered that has had good experience with powerline. This does make me curious what is different about your setup compared to others.

I’ve heard if you stay on a single circuit that helps, I’ve also heard that if it’s a single family home that helps as compared to an apartment/condo/etc.

The single family homes I’ve dealt with could all run cat5/6 so there was no need for power line so I haven’t compared that personally.

I have tried in apartments as well as office buildings and penthouses, both on a single circuit and just using whichever outlets work for the locations needed. In all scenarios the functionality ranged from “acceptable” to “painful”.

100mbps theoretical is plenty for most use cases, but the actual throughput measured has been from 60mbps to less than 5.

Also in my experience this is a starting point that degrades over time. I’ve not found a consistent reason for the performance degradation but it’s there.

So, I’m curious what is different for your use case that you’re giving such a glowing recommendation?

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I used powerline in a single family home for a few years starting in like 2007. It did just fine by me, until my roommate accidentally destroyed one of my plugs.

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One thing I have always wondered about is … how secure it is to run network over power circuit in a shared building. Can it leak from one apartment (tenancy) to another?

(Also, however, can it leak right out through the meter box even in an isolated building into the power network?)

So it combines some of the annoying aspects of WiFi, in not being able to control leakage?

I know (some? all?) power circuit adapters have encryption but
a) I think it has at least one known attack point, and
b) maybe, more significantly, is relatively poorly analyzed, if even documented, as compared with WiFi.

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Yeah, the security/privacy aspects aren’t things I know much about but since the functionality in the scenarios where I had no meaningful alternative were unsatisfactory I didn’t really find a need to investigate.

If performance and stability are consistently good in a scenario that makes this supplant wifi for me then I would be more interested in those things.

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I use powerline networking in the place where I live and it works almost flawlessly. The link speed is something like 900 MBit/s and the only problem I’ve had is that it has extremely rarely lost the link for no apparent reason (twice in two years, fixable by just turning it off and on again).

Admittedly it’s almost a best-case scenario: 20 metres or less cable length (it’s a single family home), probably on the same circuit and I’m only using 2 terminals (to link the switch in my room to the router downstairs) so there’s no need to worry about network collisions. The only reason I’m not using Cat6 is because it’s rented accommodation and I can’t go drilling holes in the wall to run the cable.

The alternative of using a wireless network is absolutely unthinkable for me - they’re slow, insecure and unreliable. As bad as leakage on the power lines outside the house might be, it is at least mostly confined to the power lines and you can’t feed in to the network without actively connecting to it.

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I had powerline as part of my previous home network. The adapters had AES between them, which I find sufficient. The adapter had a local network http-setup that let me set the key. A lot of the security, speed and convenience rests on the adapters and as far as I understand the feedback online on some of them, they vary a lot.

The leak is very limited, compared to wifi, as the attacker would need physical access to the network. With mine, the network couldn’t jump my breaker box (not sure why), so it stayed indoors. So, no nosy neighbours or drive-by’s to worry about. I agree about the lack of documentation and testing but hardline in itself is big part of the appeal security wise.


one more fork then :wink: :sweat_smile:
if you use TOR relays/proxies or TOR-browser then speed shouldn’t be a concern since TOR is already SLOW compared to a normal secured http connection on the www.

besides TOR doesn’t make much sense if you’re only using Power-line for LAN purposes (local to your residency i mean). i haven’t used Power-line but maybe i’ll give it a go.

if you have OLD aluminum wiring in the walls then you really should make an investment and change to pure-copper wiring and spare no expenses on the purity of the copper.

can anybody make some comparison test between ‘diluted copper’ and ‘purified’ copper. i mean heck we’re so autistic that these things actually make sense. right ? :joy:

How to fork a conversation instead of derail it:


Nothing wrong with AES - but it’s how it’s used. Key generation? Key distribution? What cipher mode? Re-keying?

If you get to generate a key (and you do so in an appropriately strong way, and you set the key on each powerline adapter before connecting it to the network) then that’s 50% of the battle. (I think early units were much weaker than that in that there was no HTTP interface, you didn’t set the key, it did.)

The other 50% is usually going to be theoretical unless you are up against a state actor.

I think early units were not interoperable between vendors, which suggests proprietary, undocumented protocols - with a good chance of being weak and broken protocols.

For a free-standing dwelling, that may be OK. I did also wonder aloud about multi-dwelling units / multi-tenancy buildings.

Ay, that’s true with encryption. At the moment I can’t remember what the units did but I have a feeling some of the key details were not made available via the http-UI. I’m still not convinced that there is proper interoperability (at least stable) between units and would recommend using one vendor only. Especially if you manage to locate one that seems to have a believable implementation of security features. My network example was in a small multi-dweller building.

[edit to add, as this may be relevant: electric wiring had been re-done some 10-20 years ago, so ok wiring but still “stupid” breaker box (replaceable fuses, not automatic nor did it have a smart reader yet)]

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