Can you put your company's info on the Web for access by wireless devices? Sure, but will it be opening you up to security problems? You bet. This tip, excerpted from InformIT, tells of the security problems with wireless networking, and what you can do about them.
Network security refers to the protection of information and resources from loss, corruption, and improper use. Are wireless networks secure? Among businesses considering the implementation of a wireless system, this is a common and very important question. To answer this question, you must consider the functionality of a wireless network.
A wireless network provides a bit pipe, consisting of a medium, synchronization, and error control that supports the flow of data bits from one point to another. The functionality of a wireless network corresponds to the lowest levels of the network architecture and does not include other functions, such as end-to-end connection establishment or login services that higher layers satisfy. Therefore, the only security issues relevant to wireless networks include those dealing with these lower architectural layers, such as data encryption.
The main security issue with wireless networks, especially radio networks, is that they intentionally propagate data over an area that may exceed the limits of the area that the organization physically controls. For instance, radio waves easily penetrate building walls and are receivable from the facility's parking lot and possibly a few blocks away. Someone can passively retrieve your company's sensitive information from this distance without being noticed by network security personnel. The eavesdropper can utilize a protocol analyzer equipped with a wireless LAN NIC and view data within transmitted packets if the wireless LAN does not implement encryption. This problem also exists with wired Ethernet networks, but to a lesser degree. Current flow through the wires emits electromagnetic waves that someone could receive by using sensitive listening equipment. They must be much closer to the cable, though, to receive the signal. Of course, a way to prevent the disclosure of sensitive information to potential eavesdroppers is to implement encryption that most wireless LAN vendors offer as an option.
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Next Generation Wireless Networks
Author : Sirin Tekinay
Publisher : Kluwer Academic Publishing
ISBN/CODE : 0792372409
Cover Type : Hard Cover
Pages : 272
Published : Dec 2000
This book is an organized and edited work of enabling technologies for the applications and services needed for future wireless networks. Its focus is the defining architectures, services and applications, with coverage of all layers, i.e., from the physical layer to the information handling layers of the network. The new wireless network architectures are geared specifically for enabling mobility and location-enhanced applications.
Dig Deeper on Wireless LAN Implementation