Wireless Local Area Network Security

What Does Wireless Local Area Network Security Mean?

Wireless local are network security (WLAN security) is a security system designed to protect networks from the security breaches to which wireless transmissions are susceptible. This type of security is necessary because WLAN signals have no physical boundary limitations, and are prone to illegitimate access over network resources, resulting in the vulnerability of private and confidential data. Network operations and availability can also be compromised in case of a WLAN security breech. To address these issues, various authentication, encryption, invisibility and other administrative controlling techniques are used in WLANs. Business and corporate WLANs in particular require adequate security measures to detect, prevent and block piggybackers, eavesdroppers and other intruders.

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Techopedia Explains Wireless Local Area Network Security

Security has remained a major concern in WLANs around the globe. While wireless networks provide convenience and flexibility, they also increase network vulnerability. Security threats such as unauthorized access, denial of service attacks, IP and MAC spoofing, session hijacking and eavesdropping can all be problems for WLANs. To counter these threats, various standard authentication and encryption techniques are combined with other access control mechanisms. These protocols, devices and techniques collectively secure the WLAN a level that equals and even exceeds wired LAN security.

Some of the technologies employed in WLAN security include:

  • Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP): An old encryption standard used to overcome security threats. WEP provides security to WLAN by encrypting the information transmitted over the air so that only the receivers with the correct encryption key can decrypt the information.
  • WPA/WPA2 (WI-FI Protected Access): Improved on WEP by introducing Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP). While still using RC4 encryption, TKIP uses a temporal encryption key that is regularly renewed, making it more difficult to steal. In addition, data integrity was improved through the use of a more robust hashing mechanism.
  • Wireless Intrusion Prevention Systems/Intrusion Detection Systems: Intrusion detection and prevention focuses on radio frequency (RF) levels. This involves radio scanning to detect rogue access points or ad hoc networks to regulate network access. Advanced implementations are able to visually represent the network area along with potential threats, and have automatic classification capabilities so that threats can be easily identified.
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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.