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Mac® Security Bible by Joe Kissell

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16.1. Wireless Security Basics

In terms of security, the difference between communicating over a wired Ethernet connection and communicating over a wireless Ethernet connection is somewhat like the difference between talking to someone over the telephone and talking to someone in a crowded public place. Sure, there are ways someone can eavesdrop on a telephone call, but they take some doing, and for all practical purposes, most of us assume, with reasonable justification, that our telephone conversations are private. But if you're talking to someone in a restaurant, at a park, or in some other public place, there's always the possibility that someone nearby can overhear you — accidentally or otherwise. Similarly, although it's possible (with some difficulty) to tap into someone's wired Internet traffic, it's extraordinarily easy to listen in on wireless traffic and to do so even from a distance, without you having the slightest clue that your communication isn't private.

This fact should scare you — but just enough to stir you to do something about it. Although the threat of wireless eavesdropping is real, it's not difficult to protect yourself. As long as you understand the dangers and the remedies, you can take appropriate steps, and once you do, your wireless Internet usage will be just as private as it would be if you were using a wired connection (and maybe even more so).

At the same time, you should be aware of some so-called wireless security measures that turn out to be ...

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