Understanding 802.11 Speak

In this section, I discuss some of the terminologies that you will often come across when you set up your wireless network.


By default, encryption is not enabled for wireless networks. Encryption is important because malicious hackers equipped with the necessary software can sniff the packets transmitted by the wireless network, thereby compromising your data. Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is a protocol used for encrypting packets on a wireless network. It uses a 64-bit (or 256-bit, depending on the equipment) shared key algorithm. Although it is far from perfect, WEP increases the protection of your data, but in doing so reduces your effective data rates.


Chapter 4 talks about WEP in more detail. More secure techniques used for securing wireless networks such as WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and 802.1X are discussed there.


The Service Set Identifier (SSID) acts as a name for a wireless network. All devices participating in a particular wireless network must specify this SSID. The wireless devices will not be able to participate in this network if the SSID is not specified (or not stated correctly). For example, Linksys products use the default SSID “linksys” (D-Link products use “default”). If you are concerned about unauthorized users connecting to your access point, you should change this to something else and disable SSID broadcast in the access point’s configuration (see Chapter 4). This makes it harder for unauthorized users to find your ...

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