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Wireless LAN

Technology
Introduction
 Why look at WLANs?
 Who Cares?
 Maybe he hasn’t noticed, but we
develop software for a living, not
wire up networks…
Topics of Discussion
 What is a Wireless LAN
 How does a WLAN work?
 Differing Technologies within the
implementation of WLANs
 Advantages/Disadvantages
 How do I steal my rich stock broker
neighbor’s weekly stock tips?

What is a Wireless LAN
 A network of computers and other
devices not bound by the normal
constraints and costs that a
traditional LAN involves
How does a WLAN
work?
 Data sent through the air using
radio frequency
 Broken down into two basic
components:
Transmitter/Transceiver
 Transmitters/Transceivers transmit
data at the same radio frequency
Transmitters
 Access Points(AP)
 Network device responsible for
converting wired LAN signal into
radio frequency
 Good for supporting users within a
couple of hundred feet without
degradation of signal
AP Usability
 Up to three Access Points may be
combined to create larger field
 Automatic strongest field detection
allows user to wander around with
changeovers staged transparently
 If longer range is necessary,
directional antennae can be
substituted in place of AP

Transceivers
 Wireless Ethernet cards
 Manufactured for both
PCMCIA/PCI slots
 Installs just like regular LAN
adapters
 Be careful for the antennae…
The 802.11/11b Standard
 Standard developed for WLAN
technologies
 Lays out:
 FH – Frequency Hopping
 DSSS – Direct Sequence Spread
Spectrum
 Diffused infrared
Frequency Hopping(FH)
 Uses Bursts of signals
 Maintains a single logical channel
 Is one of the two recommended RF
platforms found in the 802.11
standard, has been omitted for
new 802.11b platform
Direct Sequence Spread
Spectrum(DSSS)
 Has been adopted in both the
802.11/11b standard
 The use of a wider frequency
range while sending data allows for
higher bandwidth
 Breaks up data into small pieces,
then transmits through a range of
frequencies
Security
 RF signals are unfortunately prone
to interception by unwanted
parties(intentional/unintentional)
 FH quickly switches from
frequency to frequency making it
hard to keep up
 DSSS is scrambled, reducing risk
of unintentional interception(900
mhz phones, military comm, etc…)
The Big Gun
 WEP – Wired Equivalent Privacy
 Uses a key on each end, much like
an RSA model
 This implementation is the answer
to a lot of firms crying out for
privacy
 Allows for Geographically
dependent security
Performance
 802.11 used to sustain at most a
6mb/s connection
 New 802.11b standard commands
closer to 11mb/s
 Signal degrades with distance
depending primarily on
environment(open field vs. lead
shielding)
Disadvantages
 Limited range(500 ft, up to 1500
with additional AP hardware)
 Bandwidth quickly eaten by too
many machines(load balancing
has not yet fully matured within this
technology)
 Limited Maximum Bandwidth
(11mb/s)
Advantages
 Easy, convenient setup
 Highly cost effective for small to
mid-range shops, or as add-ons to
large enterprise networks
 Minimal downtime for relocation of
computer away from cubicle with
annoying person next door
Get Rich Quick Scheme
 Now… How to get those stock
quotes…
Use a Hidden Web Cam
 Or just go ask him, either way, it is
substantially easier and cheaper
than trying to hack into a wireless
LAN using DSSS combined with
WEP
Any Questions?