Wireless

Wireless typically refers to using network or internet connections over media that is wireless. Wireless uses several methods to connect usually including radio frequency (RF) connections and infared which is the lower part of the light spectrum.

Wireless Media Types

There are several wireless media types including:

  • Radio
  • Microwave
  • Infared

ireless Networking provides more information about wireless media. Wireless networking is not considered to be secure by many computer security experts since it can be intercepted over the air easily. Even wireless that provides for signal encryption is not considered to be very secure since many times wireless standards that provide encryption have been broken in the past. Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) is used to provide for encryption of wireless signals. When a wireless network is not encrypted an outsite computer can immediately connect and join the network unless the access is limited to specific Media Access Control (MAC) address numbers that are uniquely assigned to all network cards. When a wireless network uses WEP an outside computer cannot join the network without authorization. However WEP is not entirely secure as mentioned earlier. Whether you use wireless networking and/or WEP should depend on the sensitivity of any data you store or transmit on your network.

Wireless Standards

There are several wireless standards. Wireless standards define the protocols used for wireless. Some wireless standards include:

  • IEEE 802.11 - According to the IEEE website at IEEE Wireless Standards Wireless Zone this is a set of standards that "standards that specify an over-the-air interface between a wireless client and a base station or access point, as well as among wireless clients". This is the most common standard in use today and as of the year 2000, 802.11b was the set standard.
  • IEEE 802.15 - According to the IEEE website at IEEE Wireless Standards Wireless Zone this is a set of standards under development that are designed for "for low-complexity and low-power consumption wireless connectivity".
  • IEEE 802.16 - According to the IEEE website at IEEE Wireless Standards Wireless Zone this is a working group that "support the development of fixed broadband wireless access systems to enable rapid worldwide deployment of innovative, cost-effective and interoperable multi-vendor broadband wireless access products".
  • IEEE P1451.5 - According to the IEEE website at IEEE Wireless Standards Wireless Zone this is a working group for developing an "openly defined wireless transducer communication standard".

Wireless Operation

Wireless network cards operate in either infrastructure mode or ad-hoc mode. In ad-hoc mode, computers can talk to each other directly. In ad-hoc mode, computers must communicate through a wireless access point (WAP) into a network. There are three types of wireless access points:

  • Bridge - Connects a wireless and wired network together.
  • NAT Router - Traffic can be sent from the wireless network to a wired ethernet network, but traffic cannot be sent back except in response to traffic received from the wireless network.
  • Hybrid router plus bridge - Used to connect both a wireless and wired network to the internet when a home or business user has both wired and wireless equipment.