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Nov 24, 2013 (3 years and 6 months ago)

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The Wonderful World of Wi
-
Fi



This paper is written about wireless communications on the topic of Wi
-
Fi, or wireless
fidelity. We chose this because wireless communications have become necessary to our daily
lives and are a very real and relevant choice
for a topic. Wireless fidelity is a very common form
of wireless communications and has become very widespread, even on our own campus. This
paper will discuss the uses of Wi
-
Fi, an overview of how it works, a look into security of
connections, and a num
ber of the recent advancements in Wi
-
Fi.

Everywhere you look, there is someone using their laptop.


Whether it is on campus, at a
coffee shop, or an airport, we are in the era of Wi
-
Fi.


Wi
-
Fi is used as a means of
communication with co
-
workers, family mem
bers, or just for surfing the Internet. The use of Wi
-
Fi has become more convenient than a hard Ethernet line. The point of a wireless network says it
right in its name, “wireless.”


There are no wires, making your computer or mobile device
completely mobi
le and clutter
-
free.


Wi
-
Fi is so widespread that it has become a necessity in our
daily lives and is needed everywhere we go.


With the availability of Wi
-
Fi, students all across
the nation are able to connect to the Internet through many campus
-
wide Wi
-
F
i hotspots.


This
makes it convenient to turn in a paper at the last minute or place a bid on E
-
bay in between
classes. Wi
-
Fi is not only available and useful for college students, but useful for home networks
and businesses. One of the most common uses of

Wi
-
Fi is connecting to the Internet in order to
place orders for businesses or sending e
-
mails.


The easiest and most common way to get a
business up and running is through a Wi
-
Fi network setup within the building to reduce clutter
and to allow people to

be mobile.


“Wi
-
Fi can make access publicly available at Wi
-
Fi hotspots
provided either free of charge or to subscribers to various providers. Organizations and
businesses such as airports, hotels and restaurants often provide free hotspots to attract or
assist
clients” (Wireless Hotspots 1).


Free
, in today’s vernacular, is revered by everyone. When a
coffee shop or store like Starbucks or Borders offers free hotspots, people will immediately flock
to this area for connectivity.


There are a plethora of u
ses for Wi
-
Fi and the technology is being
improved to expand the capabilities of Wi
-
Fi.

Wi
-
Fi functions because of the wireless router. A wireless router, which is connected to
the internet through an Ethernet cable, sends and receives signal with informat
ion to computers
or any other device capable of receiving the signal. The wireless communication between the
router and the computer takes place in the form of a radio wave
-
an electromagnetic (light) wave
that has a specific range of frequencies. At a cons
tant frequency it is possible for interference of
waves to occur so the frequency is changed quickly to prevent this. Two
-
way communication
takes place; both the router and the computer send and receive signals. The information in the
signal is transferred

in binary form. It is sent, then received, then decoded. Through this two
-
way
communication computers are capable of requesting to view websites, receiving the information
from the router, sending more information back to the internet, as well as to other

computers in
the network using the same wireless router!

Though Wi
-
Fi is incredibly useful and helpful in today's society, there are also many
security concerns that come with it.


Because many people can log on to a given Wi
-
Fi
connection if they are in
range of the signal, security measures need to be taken to ensure that the
security of the network is not compromised.


If unwanted users connect to a network, then there
are many ways they can tamper with the network. For example, a user could steal bandw
idth
from a nearby neighbor without paying for their own internet connection, or break into another
network and destroy files.


There are laws against unauthorized use of Wi
-
Fi connections, and


there have been trials for people who have used Wi
-
Fi from ret
ailers to hack into their databases
and steal credit card numbers and other sensitive information.


For this reason, encryption exists
to provide protection from unwanted use of the network (Leng 1
-
2).

Encryption is a great way to protect a wireless networ
k.


The original encryption standard
that was used was WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy).


WEP has been 'cracked' by hackers and is
now considered insecure.


Networks are urged not to use WEP because it can be broken in
seconds.


WPA (Wi
-
Fi Protected Access)
is the current standard for encryption, though it has
very recently been cracked.


Researchers were able to break the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol
(TKIP) and use that crack to read data from a router to a computer or send their own data to a
computer.


This is not a full break of security, as there is currently not a way to crack the
encryption from a computer to a router.


Nonetheless, it is a serious flaw and solutions such as
WPA2 are being developed to ensure that Wi
-
Fi encryption stays secure (McMil
lan 1).



WPA's encryption uses TKIP to secure the data packets being sent at the cost of
processing use.


There is also a checksum called Michael which uses an 8
-
byte message integrity
code to dissuade forgeries.


WPA mandates authentication in order to b
e implemented.


WPA is
backwards
-
compatible with WEP (Chu 1), meaning that if a network uses WEP, it can be easily
upgraded so that WPA can be used with it.


Because it has been 'cracked' and is no longer
completely secure, WPA will soon be completely obso
lete.


A new security scheme requires
completely new hardware to be developed for its implementation.


Currently, with 802.11a/g,
there aren't enough resources through the processor to be able to have as much security as is
necessary.


The limitations on t
he hardware require that for security, an inline coprocessor would
be necessary to implement security.


This makes the system more expensive to produce and an
infeasible option.


Upcoming technology, such as embedded processors, allows the hardware to
be a
ble to support the security that is needed when using Wi
-
Fi.


Some newer models are even
designing integrated security engines and hardware
-
accelerated security processing to allow
faster processing of the data traveling through the Wi
-
Fi signal (Bouvier 3
-
4).


As each new
encryption method is developed and implemented, it is a reality that there will be hackers trying
to crack it.


The only way to have a completely secure network is to continuously develop new
methods of encryption.

Wireless Communications

and Wi
-
Fi have come a long way since their inception, and
there have been many advancements in their technologies in recent years. One such example is a
new version of the standard 802.11, 802.11n, which has been proposed and could drastically
increase t
he available bandwidth by adding multiple input, multiple outputs (MIMO) antennas.
This new technology faces a number of complications that make it more difficult to make a
transition to the new products. For example, some parts of this new product will
require
different hardware from what is currently in use, creating the need for more than a new router.
Another new branch of wireless fidelity is that of voice over wireless LAN, VWLAN, which
would allow a wireless network to transport voice signals as i
n cell phones. This would allow
for a cell phone or other devices to send and receive voice communications using Wi
-
Fi much
like computers currently connect to the internet. This would be very useful especially in areas
that haves access to sources of Wi
-
Fi but not to the typical signals used by cell phones (Chretien
14
-
16).

Another idea that has developed in the last couple of years is that of using Wi
-
Fi as a tool
for safety, in addition to work and leisure. After hurricane Katrina ravaged much of sout
hern
states, namely the city of New Orleans, there was a call for better uses of our resources for safety
purposes. One such idea was suggested by human
-
computer interaction researchers, saying that


“the United States needs an “Online 911”: an Internet
-
ba
sed social network that would allow the
public to report local emergencies and request assistance” (Shankar 116). This specific example
is among many other ideas that have already been implemented, or will be sometime in the near
future relating to large
scale information systems.

There are many other advancements being made in the field of wireless communications,
specifically wireless fidelity, and its future is looking very bright. On top of the new types of
technologies being introduced, the connect
ions are constantly being tested to be made faster,
more efficient, more user friendly, to broaden their ranges and bandwidth sizes, and to more
effectively transfer whatever type of data desired wirelessly.


In conclusion, Wi
-
Fi is fairly simple to unde
rstand and is very helpful in today’s society.
It has made the internet much more convenient to access because one no longer needs to be
“plugged in.” Businesses now market their available wireless internet to attract customers to their
stores. However, w
ith the increase in accessibility, security issues have arisen. The technology is
advancing quickly and solutions to the security problems, as well as other communication
problems, may soon be solved.



Works Cited


Bouvier, Dan. "Get The Jump On Next
-
Gen
Enterprise
-
Class Wireless Access Points."
Electronic Design

57.3 (12 Feb. 2009): 45
-
48.
Academic Search Premier
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University of Illinois Library, Urbana, IL. 2 Mar. 2009
<
http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=36527532&site=eho
st
-
live
>.



Chretien, Wendy. "A Whole New World of Wi
-
Fi."
T H E Journal

33.11 (June 2006): 14
-
16.
Academic Search Premier
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University o
f Illinois Library, Urbana, IL.
7 Apr.
2009
<http://search.ebscohost.com.proxy2.library.uiuc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&A
N=24649156&site=ehost
-
live>.


Chu, Francis. "Security beyond WEP."
eWeek

20.21 (26 May 2003): 54.
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live
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Leng, Ter Kah. "Wireless Internet access and potential liabilities."
Computer Law & Security
Report

23.6 (Nov. 2007): 550
-
554.
Academic Search Premier
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Illinois Library, Urbana, IL. 17 Mar. 2009
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McMillan, Robert. "WPA Wi
-
Fi Encryption Cracked for the First Time."
PC World

27.1 (J
an.
2009): 20
-
20.
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IL. 2 Mar. 2009


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Shankar, Kalpana. "Wind, Water, and Wi
-
Fi: New Trends in Community Informatics and
Disaster Management."
Information Society

24.2 (Apr. 2008): 116
-
120.
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N=31271077&site=ehost
-
live>.


Wireless Hotspots.


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2006.


13 March 2009.


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>.