Wireless network communications, systems that interconnect several units without using wires, has been a goal of network administrators for a long time. This is because seasoned administrators know that sometimes wires just do not go where you need them to. Further, there has always been a need for mobility in computing. Wireless provides that. The need for portability has increased dramatically in recent years, however, probably to keep up with the cellular telephone, which has granted unparalleled flexibility to wandering users.
Unfortunately, wireless is based on a shared medium, called at one time “the Ether.” Because wireless communications work by injecting electromagnetic waves into the ether, everyone who can poke an antenna into the path of a radio wave can intercept a wireless transmission.
So, the question us, how do you maintain security over a medium that is without bounds? The answer is careful encryption, limited power, and attention to antenna placement. Although the folks at the neighborhood electronics store would have you believe that all you need to do is plug a card into your computer and you can join the wireless world, if you fail to pay attention to some basics, you are entering a threatening world in which your secrets are no longer your own.
Before we talk about where wireless is and where it is going, let’s look at where it came from. Radio waves happen when electrons run down a wire, and the movement ...