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LinuxSecurity.com: Linux 802.11b and wireless (in)security

Mar 05, 2002, 12:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Kershaw)
"In this article, Michael talks about Linux and background on wireless security, utilities to interrogate wireless networks, and the top tips you should know to improve wireless security of your network.

'Wireless' networking is not a new concept. Even end-user and hobby wireless networking has been around in various forms for well over a decade, and ham radio networks still toss packets across the airwaves today. Recently, wireless ethernet (802.11b networking, also known as WiFi) has been gaining in popularity, and in the last six or eight months has dropped in price to the point of becoming a commodity - at $80 or $100 USD for a card and $120 USD for an access point, wireless is finally becoming an option for home users looking to avoid running cable through the house for their laptops, for geeks and technophiles looking for something new to explore, and for offices looking to expand worker mobility. Unfortunately, with this wireless boom, security concerns are often overlooked, ignored, or under-supported, either through hardware and protocol limitations or through simple human oversight.

802.11b operates in the 2.4Ghz radio frequency, and typically has a range of 150 or 200 feet indoors. It can operate in one of two modes, infrastructure mode, where all the client systems talk to an access point which typically serves as a bridge to the wired ethernet network, or in ad-hoc mode, where two 802.11b cards talk directly without an access point. 802.11b also supports WEP encryption of various key sizes. WEP, or Wired Equivalence Privacy, is designed with the goal of making the wireless network as secure as a wired network. More on WEP later. For all intents and purposes, a 802.11b wireless network functions as a shared media ethernet, which is to say, everyone can see all data on the line."

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