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Wireless Security

            Wireless networking has been an issue of security since its creation. With early technology it was simple to steal someone's data or connect into their LAN. Some advances were made, such as encryption and the need for MAC (media access control) addresses on the access point, but it was still relatively simple to bypass these security methods. New solutions in wireless networking security such as CCE, WPA, and AES are helping to destroy misconceptions and improve security.
             The first real standard for wireless security was WEP (Wired Equivalent Protection). It did not live up to its name. WEP offered only basic security. Free utilities available online can be used to find wireless networks and attempt to gain access, such as AirSnort. Its simplicity to crack comes from the use of a static 40 or 128 bit encryption key. This key had to be entered manually on every device wanted to communicate with the WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network). This in itself was enough to keep administrators of medium and large sized networks from using wireless networking. In effect WEP is a "No Trespassing" sign on your WLAN warning people that the information being transmitted is private. Because WEP is too easy to attack and get into a network, it is more effective as a warning to stay out. WEP was an early effort at security for WiFi that was not given nearly enough attention or time to develop.
             With WEP being obsolete and not nearly secure enough for sensitive information on a WLAN, the next step is WPA (WiFi protected access). WPA provides a much better security solution to WEP because of better encryption, "industrial strength authentication," and dynamic keys. WPA is much more secure in that it checks each packet for a key and then checks the message integrity using "Michael," a new method of testing the validity of an 8 bit message in each packet, before allowing its transmission over the LAN. Most equipment that supports WEP will be able to simply apply a firmware upgrade for WPA support.

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