When the concept of a network without wires was first suggested more than two
decades ago, it sparked the imagination of scientists, product vendors, and users
around the globe eager for the convenience and flexibility of a free roaming connection.
Unfortunately, as the variety of wireless solutions began to emerge, anticipation
turned to disappointment.The first wave of solutions proved inadequate
for the networking, portability, and security needs of a changing IT environment.
While this has largely continued to be the case throughout the 1990s with
most cell-based and office local area network (LAN)-based wireless technology
deployments, great strides have been made specifically over the last two years to
address the fundamental concerns impeding the full acceptance of wireless networking
in the mainstream of corporate IT departments and the small office.
In this chapter, you will learn about the technology that is available today for
wireless data networking and what tomorrow’s wireless technologies have to
offer.We will cover office LAN wireless solutions including 802.11, its subgroups
(802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g) and HomeRF, cellular-based wireless data solutions
including the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and i-Mode and the network
infrastructures supporting them (in particular 2G, 2.5G, and 3G), and finally,
802.15 Personal Area Network (PAN) solutions such as Bluetooth. In addition,
we will review some of the new standards being developed to create wireless
metropolitan area networks (WMANs) and other wireless data transmission solutions
that are being proposed for commercial application.
In conjunction with the review of the technologies behind wireless, we will
also cover the main security concerns specifically impacting cellular-based office
LAN and PAN wireless deployments. In doing so, we will review the major security
concerns you can expect to read about in later chapters, and will discuss
some of the efforts being made to minimize their impact.
After completing this chapter, you will have gained a solid understanding of
wireless technologies and their associated security risks. It is our hope that we
provide you with an appreciation of how wireless networking technologies will
impact our work and home lives, and that security will have to play an important
role in wireless deployments. Let’s get started!