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IEEE 802.11 b/g (Wi-Fi)

 

Michael DiDiego

 

IST 7040 Data Communications and Networking

 

Wilmington College

 

January 30, 2007

 



††††††††††† This report describes Wi-Fi and the needed components.Advantages including convenience and its ubiquitous access are noted as well as its security disadvantages.The closing paragraphs address steps to help reduce the security vulnerabilities.†††

Wi-Fi is an evolutionary standard that is really being utilized more and more each day.Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity and is part of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standard number 802.11.This standard makes wireless computing possible and was considered a new technology in 1998.According to Lusa (1998, p. 324), IEEE 802.11 interoperability of wireless Local Area Networks (LANs) are foreseen as a result of these standards.Today, the wireless is a widely accepted reality with hundreds of million users (Gallegos, 2004, p19).Actually, IEEE introduced 802.11 in 1997 with the capability to initially support data rate up to 2 Mb/s and allowed wireless workstations up to roughly several hundred feet (<100m) away to communicate with an access point (White, 2007, p. 99).

††††††††††† Have you heard of cities being promoted as going wireless?As of January 2006, 186 United States cities had their networks up and running or had definite plans to build one (How Municipal Wi-Fi Works, 2007, p.2).Just what makes this all possible?The electromagnetic wave and standards for common settings on computing devices make the wireless connection.The protocol established for IEEE 802.11 b/g sets a standard for frequency and transmission speed.The frequency is the number of times a signal makes a complete cycle within a given time frame.The unit of measurement for frequency is Hertz (Hz), cycles per second.Communicationsí transmission speed is baud, number of signal changes per second.These signals for the baud rate convert depending of the protocol to data rate per second.The data rate is measured in bits per second (b/s).The 802.11 b/g standards set the frequency to 2.4GHz, which is 2.4 billion Hertz per second.The transmission speed ranges from 11 Mb/s for 802.11(b) to 54 Mb/s for 802.11(g) which is often selected for its speed and reliability.These are maximum speeds depending on range, transmission and equipment conditions.†††


A wireless networking card, also called a wireless adapter, receives the waves as a signal and converts them to digital data.This adapter is in the form of a computer circuit board with the integrated hardware to receive the signals and the software to perform the conversion.The wireless adapter is sending and receiving signals from the access point.A wireless router has an antenna and functions as the access point.The router is also connected to the wired portion of the LAN.Here the wireless router sends and receives information to the internet using a physical wire, often a wired Ethernet connection.

The ready availability of the adapters, routers and other equipment makes assembling and deploying a wireless network easy.To take advantage of municipal hotspots, free public accessible LAN connections, or start your own wireless network just buy a Wi-Fi compliant notebook and a wireless router.It is plug and play compatible.Make sure your laptop computer specifies that it is 802.11 b/g ready.However, for older computers a wireless adapter can be plugged into the PC card slot or universal service bus (USB) port.A desktop computer can have an adapter for the wireless standard that plugs into the peripheral component interconnect (PCI).With these devices properly integrated computers can automatically discover existing networks in a Wi-Fi hotspot (How Wi-Fi Works, 2006, p.4).Not only will it detect signals in a designated area but it will pick up any unsecured access point in its range.A Wi-Fi equipped computer can act as an access point itself and has the vulnerability of becoming a rogue access point.



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