Local area network (LAN) Question:
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Tell us is a WLAN secure?


YES! WLANs use much of the same technology (and even more in cases) that makes digital PCS phones secure. Spread spectrum and frequency hopping was originally developed for military use. The technology was designed to keep prying enemy ears from intercepting highly sensitive data. Both of these technologies are used in virtually all WLAN applications.

Besides making the radio link secure, the data is also encrypted for even more security if the radio link were ever ?tapped?. Different equipment manufacturers have implemented 40 bit, 64bit and 128 bit encryption. This initial attempt at security had some weaknesses, which were quickly identified.

New enhancements known as ?Wi-Fi Protected Access? (WPA) greatly improve the security of WLAN links. The two primary areas of improvements are in the areas of data encryption and user authentication.

The new encryption technique TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) addresses all the known vulnerabilities of the previous WEP encryption technique by ?wrapping? a very secure protective layer over the existing WEP packets.

WEP had virtually no user authentication mechanism in it?s initial deployment. WPA coupled with another authentication technique EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol) provides the mechanism for true authentication services. This not only authenticates the user at login, but also protects the user from accidentally joining an un-wanted rogue network, which may steal network credentials.

Additional layers of security can be supported through virtual private networks (VPN), radius servers, and other techniques.

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