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Wireless Security

Authored on: Feb 23, 2006 by Balasubramani Raju

Technical Paper

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Why is wireless security such a big issue? After all wire-line networks never had to cross the security hurdle to see wide-scale deployment. The answer is inherent in the question. The wireless medium by its very nature can't be contained. Wire-line networks could be physically contained into the network they formed by ensuring that rogue nodes did not have access to the medium (wires). Companies were willing to deploy wire-line networks by ensuring this. This is not to say that the wire-line networks did not have to cross the security hurdle. Once the Internet grew and there was a need to send out data over insecure networks, security in wire-line networks became an absolute must too. However, for wireless networks this requirement has to be met at a much earlier stage because of the insecure nature of the medium.

The wireless medium is so open to attacks that today's wireless networks can be accessed by using a laptop and once the laptop gets access to the packets flowing through the network, it is an open world from there on. Effective security is the most important element now missing from most wireless networks. Vulnerabilities in these networks leave them open to eavesdropping, session highjacking, data alteration and manipulation, and an overall lack of privacy. This paper details some of the available options for securing a wireless network.

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