3.1.12 – 3.1.15 – Wireless Networks

3.1.12 – Outline the advantages and disadvantages of wireless networks.

Advantages

  • Cabling can be expensive & difficult (Not needed with Wireless)
  • Easy to set up temporary links
  • Wireless networks are very cheap to set up
  • Lots of public access links (People can switch from network to network depending on which connection is best)
  • Offers flexibility / convenience uIt’s the only way some devices can connect (Tablet phones etc)
  • Global standards (eg.802.11n)
  • Uses unlicensed radio spectrum (This does not cost anything)

Disadvantages

  • Limited Range uInterference (Even the weather can have an impact)
  • Less secure than wired connections (WEP is easy to break into although WPA2 has solved this issue)
  • Health concerns over radiation
  • Low transfer speeds uSome older devices do not have the technology to connect to a wireless network

3.1.13 – The hardware and software components of a wireless network.

Hardware

Modem

To allow you to connect to the Internet

A wireless router

This serves as a similar function to traditional routers in wired networks. In most cases it also provides the functions of a Wireless Access Point (used to connect to an existing wired network).  In most cases we buy a single device that integrates a  modem, a switch and a router into a single box.

A wireless network adapter

This also known as wireless NIC ( Wireless Network Interface controller or Wireless Network Interface Card) is required for each device on a wireless network.

A device/devices 

Computers/Phones/Tablets to connect to the network

Software

DHCP

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a network protocol that allows a server to automatically assign an IP address to a client device. It is very efficient and convenient to let the router automatically assign IP addresses to devices. This client operates in the client-server model, which is widely used in  many networks, including local ones. It is important to mention that  when a wireless device enters the wireless network it  may be able to acquire an IP address from the router. The alternative would be to disable the  DHCP functionality and configure each one of the wireless network devices with a static IP address.

Software Firewall

A network security system that determines what data comes in and goes out of a network or a PC.

Name/SSID

A service set identification (SSID) is a set of 32 alphanumeric characters. It is used to differentiate one WLAN from another and is case sensitive.

NIC drivers

A Network Interface Card driver is a device driver for the NIC card. A Network Interface Card driver operates or controls the hardware of the card It acts like a translator between the wireless card and the applications or operating system of the device.

OS

The Operating System handles system resources and is responsible for managing all the protocols, hardware, and applications that have to cooperate in order that a network can exist and function correctly.

Security Software

To prevent viruses, adware access control etc

Web Browser

To search the internet.

3.1.14 – Describe the characteristics of wireless networks

1G& 2G:

The first generation of mobile technology (1G/year 1981) used analog transmission, and in 1992 2G appeared and used digital exchange.

3G:

Is widely used in wireless telephony, GPS and location based services, mobile internet access, video calls and mobile TV.

  • These is more secure than 2G
  • 3G transfers at a rate of 200kbits/sec

4G:

It is used for mobile Internet access to laptops, smartphones and other devices.

  • The speed requirement for  4G services is at 100 Mbit/s for various forms of high mobility communication such as use from trains, buses and cars, and 1 Gbit/sec for low mobility communication that serves walking and static persons.

LTE:

Long Term Evolution is a type of 4G network

  • Its goal is to be fast and to have a large capacity. Its highest download rates are as high as 300 Mbit/s and upload rates 75 Mbit/s. 
  • 4G LTE has evolved to LTE Advanced that provides even more data capacity.

WiMAx:

The most important application of WiMax is that it allows connectivity even in remote and Isolated areas where there is no WiFi, dial-up or broadband access.

Wimax has pretty much been replaced by LTE.

While WiMAX did make it in the 4G cell phone business thanks to Sprint and some carriers outside the U.S., most other and all the major carriers adopted LTE.  Eventually even Sprint has been changing its networks over to LTE and phasing out its WiMAX phone systems.

5G known as the ”Tactile Internet” although is not available yet should start appearing around 2020 and will deliver speeds of 1Gbps. Between 50 and 100 billion devices will be connected to the internet many of which will be every day devices that are not now (Kettles, Fridges etc)

3.1.15 – Describe the different methods of network security

Why do we need network security?

  • disable operations
  • disturb the privacy of legitimate users
  • gain unauthorized access
  • insert viruses or malicious code
  • launch denial of service attacks
  • steal identities
  • steal devices and steal sensitive information that is stored or transmitted

So how can we provide security using simple measures?

  • Use a password to access your device.
  • Install an antivirus program on your device
  • Use a software firewall installed on each device
  • Prevent physical access
  • Use encryption software for sensitive information sent over the Internet e.g. attached files sent with email.

So how can we provide security using other measures?

  • Use a password to access the web interface that is used to setup your wireless routers or access points.
  • Turn  On/ Off Wireless Connectivity.
  • Enable/Disable SSID Broadcast. (User has to enter SSID manually as it wont show up on connection list)
  • Block access to wireless devices by MAC address:
  • Use a hardware firewall

Wireless Protocols

WEP: Wireless Equivalent Privacy. 

  • Very simple algorithm… that was very quickly broken!
  • Superseded by WPA in 2003
  • Retired WEP in 2004.

WPA -2004 – 2006

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) was the Wi-Fi Alliance’s direct response and replacement to the increasingly apparent vulnerabilities of the WEP standard. 

The most common WPA configuration is WPA-PSK (Pre-Shared Key).

WPA, like its predecessor WEP, has been shown via both proof-of-concept and applied public demonstrations to be vulnerable to intrusion. 

Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2)

WPA has, as of 2006, been officially superseded by WPA2

Below is a basic list ranking the current Wi-Fi security methods available on any modern (post-2006) router, ordered from best to worst:

  1. WPA2 + AES
  2. WPA + AES
  3. WPA + TKIP/AES
  4. WPA + TKIP
  5. WEP
  6. Open Network (no security at all)

3.1.16 – Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each method of network security.

No Security

  • Advantages
    • High Speeds
  • Disadvantages
    • Anyone can access the network

Use a password to access device

  • Advantages
    • Easy to use
    • Will prevent unauthorized access
  • Disadvantages
    • Takes time to enter username and password
    • Weak password can be cracked

Install an Anti-Virus

  • Advantages
    • Good protection from Malicious software
  • Disadvantages
    • Can cause the device to become slow

Use a software firewall on each device

  • Advantages
    • Will monitor the traffic between the device and network and prevent unauthorized access
  • Disadvantages
    • May slow down the device

Use a password to access a web interface that is used to set up your wireless routers and access points

  • Advantages
    • Even if a user is on the LAN they would still require a username and password
  • Disadvantages
    • Takes time to enter the password
    • If the password is weak it is easy to crack

Turn On / Off Wireless Connectivity

  • Advantages
    • Complete security
  • Disadvantages
    • If you disable it you have no Wireless Network!

Enable / Disable SSID Broadcast

  • Advantages
    • For the most part invisible to other users
  • Disadvantages
    • Experienced users can still find the SSID

Limit Access to wireless devices by MAC address (Whitelisting)

  • Advantages
    • Extra security
  • Disadvantages
    • Can still find the list of allowed MAC addresses via sniffing wireless transmissions
    • Difficult and/or time consuming to manage the list

WEP Wireless Security

  • Advantages
    • Works with legacy systems
  • Disadvantages
    • Outdated
    • Easy to crack

WPA / WPA 2 Security

  • Advantages
    • At present this is the best option
    • Strong encryption
  • Disadvantages

Wireless Protected Setup (WPS)

  • Advantages
    • Easy of use
    • Do not need to know the SSID and security phrases/ keys
  • Disadvantages
    • New technology
    • Only works with WPS certified devices
    • Some known security issues

Prevent Physical Access (Wireless Networks)

  • Advantages
    • Limited to the users premises
  • Disadvantages
    • Very expensive compared to other methods

Use Routers Hardware Firewall

  • Advantages
    • Prevents hackers and unauthorized people from gaining access to your network
  • Disadvantages
    • Cant stop people in range of your WiFi getting on your WiFi network

Use Encryption Software for sensitive information over the internet

  • Advantages
    • Extremely difficult for a unauthorized person to read the encrypted files
  • Disadvantages
    • Process takes time