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Chapter 1. Real World Wireless Security

"Every matter requires prior knowledge."

óDu Mu

"If you can find out the real conditions, then you will know who will prevail."

óMei Yaochen

Rather than concentrating on the basics of general information security or wireless networking, this introductory chapter focuses on something grossly overlooked by many "armchair experts": The state of wireless security in the real world. Before getting down to it, though, there is a need to tell why we are so keen on the security of 802.11 standards-based wireless networks and not other packet-switched radio communications. Figure 1-1 presents an overview of wireless networks in the modern world, with 802.11 networks taking the medium circle.

Figure 1.1. An overview of modern wireless networks.

graphics/01fig01.gif


As shown, we tend to use the term 802.11 wireless network rather than 802.11 LAN. This particular technology dissolves the margin between local and wide area connectivity: 802.11b point-to-point links can reach beyond 50 miles in distance, efficiently becoming wireless wide area network (WAN) connections when used as a last mile data delivery solution by wireless Internet service providers (ISPs) or long-range links between offices. Thus, we consider specifying the use of 802.11 technology to be necessary: Local area networks (LANs) and WANs always had and will have different security requirements and approaches.

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