This All-in-One Guide will help you build, secure and manage a wireless local area network (WLAN) from the bottom up. If you're new to wireless technologies, and wireless networking in particular, we recommend you start at the beginning, where you'll find information and resources to help you gain a fundamental understanding of the benefits of WLANs, and the standards and wireless gear involved. If you already have a WLAN in place, skip ahead to learn how new technologies can help you secure, manage and maximize your WLAN performance.
New in this guide
- Signs of WLAN intrusion (WLAN intrusion detection and prevention)
- Wireless network troubleshooting: Connectivity problems (Troubleshooting WLANs)
- Wireless LAN planning -- 5 critical steps (Designing and planning your wireless architecture)
802.11 wireless LANs can extend your network's reach, provide convenient access in hard-to-wire locations, slash installation cost, and speed service upgrades. Wireless access to enterprise applications and Internet services can improve workforce productivity, business agility, and competitive edge. Dig into this chapter to learn more about how WLANs can help your business reap these benefits, and how to justify wireless deployment by analyzing potential return on investment.
As with any technology investment, a successful WLAN rollout depends on making sound choices to meet your business needs -- without breaking your budget. Deciphering the 802.11 alphabet soup and purchasing unfamiliar equipment can be daunting tasks, even for seasoned network professionals. This chapter provides expert insight that can help you make the right strategic decisions, from adopting 802.11 radio standards that fit your workforce and applications to selecting WLAN clients, access points, and switches that can do the job today -- and tomorrow.
Deciding to go wireless is one thing; implementing that vision is quite another. A cost-effective, operationally efficient, scalable wireless LAN requires careful planning. Radio networks must deliver sufficient signal and capacity to targeted areas while minimizing asset waste and security exposure; and new WLANs must often be integrated with existing wired networks, providing seamless access to business applications and services without disrupting that network's operation, security or performance.
In this chapter, you will learn the critical design and planning steps required for successful WLAN implementation. By understanding the principles of wireless switching, access point placement, and radio antenna selection, you can develop a solid plan. By exploring the techniques and tools available to conduct wireless site surveys and correctly provision WLAN equipment, you can get prepared to execute your plan, avoiding surprises and common pitfalls.
For most companies, the No. 1 wireless concern is security -- not only keeping 802.11 traffic safe but preventing any wireless LAN from jeopardizing corporate networks, servers and data. Whether your company already has a WLAN, is just starting WLAN deployment, or bans on-campus 802.11 use, a solid understanding of wireless-borne attacks, potential business impacts, and available countermeasures is absolutely essential in order to protect corporate assets from unacceptable risk.
The expert tips in this chapter will help you become familiar with the exposures inherent in wireless and the threats that can be used to attack WLANs, and how adopting a systematic approach of vulnerability assessment and security policy definition can help your company manage associated business risks. You will learn the differences between 802.11 security standards such as WEP, WPA and WPA2, and strategies for successful deployment and migration between these old and new security approaches. You will also discover security best practices that can be used to harden your network against wireless-borne attack, including intrusion detection, prevention, and rogue management.
As 802.11 wireless LANs mature, replacing less-convenient access methods and supporting mission-critical business applications, companies are beginning to demand dependable, robust wireless services. The best-effort performance so common in trial WLANs is simply unacceptable in most production networks. Try-it-and-see debugging cannot scale to support a large workforce that requires timely problem resolution. Companies that go wireless must be able to comprehensively monitor network activity, proactively identify trouble spots, quickly isolate failures, and plan ahead for the capacity required to sustain growth.
This chapter, the fourth and final segment of our All-in-One Guide to Wireless LANs, offers managing, monitoring and troubleshooting hints that can help you gain IT control over your company's wireless devices and users. From strategies for automated access point management to techniques for configuring wireless client software and policy, learn how to centrally administer a large distributed WLAN. Get a handle on the wireless performance characteristics that determine end-user experience and quality of service, and how to predict and measure them. And read practical tips that can help you troubleshoot failed 802.11 connections and radio interference issues.