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Wifi Encryption Essay

1929 words - 8 pages

Term Paper
Christopher Talbott
American Public University System

Wireless Networks and their Security Risks
This purpose of this paper is to discuss the current state of Wireless networks. Their different security features and known issues with wireless technology. As well as how business implement Wireless networks, the different hacking methods used against Wireless networks and its future technological uses.
There are many different wireless standards ranging from 802.11b to the new 802.11ac standard. Many manufactures exist with their own unique features for both home and business use. Each Wireless network standard was set forth an agreed upon by the IEEE or Institute of ...view middle of the document...

11g routers. So if a user upgraded to router to the new standard their old wireless PC card would still work. But in order to utilize the faster speed of 802.11g a new wireless PC card had to be purchased as well. This backwards compatible allowed for easier transition to the newer standard. The trend of backwards compatibility would continue through future iterations of 802.11 as well.
802.11g was followed by 802.11n, “802.11n connections support maximum theoretical network bandwidth up to 300 Mbps depending primarily on the number of wireless radios incorporated into devices, (Mitchell, 2014)”. This standard was also to first to utilize MIMO, Multiple in Multiple Out antennas. Meaning that multiple radio signals can be received and transmitted at the same time. Unlike previous editions where only two antennas were used, one for receiving and one for transmitting. With MIMO 802.11n is capable of faster connections speeds up to 300 Mbps. Also like its predecessor 802.11g, 802.11n is backwards compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g.
The most recent standard is 802.11ac, according to CISCO, “first-wave 802.11ac products built around 80 MHz and delivering up to 433 Mbps (low end), 867 Mbps (mid-tier), or 1300 Mbps (high end) at the physical layer. Second-wave products may promise still more channel bonding and spatial streams, with plausible product configurations operating at up to 3.47 Gbps, ("802.11ac: The fifth," 2014)”. Same as before this new standard is backwards compatible with previous standards. But with any new standard new hardware is needed to achieve the maximum speed of 802.11ac.
Each of the above 802.11 standards has various security features it uses to help protect the Wireless network. The first of these is WEP, Wired Equivalent Privacy which used RC4 encryption to secure 802.11b Wireless networks. In a paper published in 2001 by Scott Fluhrer, Itsik Mantin, and Adi Shamir, called Weaknesses in the Key Scheduling Algorithm of RC4. They described how intercepting packets can lead to discovery of the security key and ultimately allow a hacker to gain access to a WEP encrypted network with relative ease. Programs are available now that can perform this action in under a minute, some of which will be discussed later in this paper.
Wi-Fi Protected Access or WPA was the successor to WEP and was more secure. “Like WEP, WPA uses RC4 encryption for its keys, but unlike WEP, WPA modifies the original key for greater security and supports an optional authentication server, ("Wi-fi protected access," 2005)”. WPA was more secure then WEP, but it was not a complete solution. WPA2 as then implemented using AES encryption and until recently was not hackable. To quote O’Donnell, “To be clear, hackers have managed to crack WPA2-PSK (Pre Shared Key), which is primarily used by most home and small business users. WPA2-Enterprise, used in the corporate world, has a much more complicated setup involving the use of a RADIUS authentication server and...

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