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Wireless LAN Primer - the Facts

People regularly ask the question: "Are 802.11 / Wi-Fi wireless networks really that complicated?"

The answer is a very resounding YES, and they are getting ever more complex.

One of the simplest considerations is whether to use 802.11b or 802.11g or 802.11a equipment.

We have listed below some of the remaining considerations - more than sixty are listed here!

Why should I use LEVER for training and advice in Wireless networking?

LEVER Technology Group PLC are leaders in Wireless Networking and Wireless Security. Here are just some of the reasons why.
  • Wireless networking and Security is LEVER's core business.
  • LEVER have been delivering training in Wireless technologies for more than four years. We are unrivalled in our abilities.
  • For several years, LEVER has worked with the largest wireless security agency in World, extending their skills in a wide range of wireless technologies and in wireless security.
  • We train and advise major Telcos, Mobile Operators, Wireless network installers, major IT manufacturers, the largest IT consultancy companies, major IT vendors, Times 100 companies, universities, local authorities: in fact organisations of all types and sizes.
  • We work closely with leading wireless equipment vendors, and deliver training for their wireless design, installation and support staff.
  • We deliver the widest range of wireless training courses available anywhere.
  • Since we develop our own market-leading courseware, and review this on a monthly basis, we are able to deliver the most up-to-date and comprehensive training available.
  • Our wireless LAN courses run every month on our open training schedule.
  • We have an unrivalled ability to deliver bespoke training in wireless technologies.
  • LEVER are completely vendor-independent and vendor-neutral.
To learn all about the latest in 802.11 technologies, including new products from new vendors, the latest strategies for securing and auditing wireless LANs, and to find out why LEVER are the leading experts in Wireless technologies, call free on 0800 138 3030 (UK) or +44 (0)113 398 3300 (International), or e-mail

Misconceptions about Wireless LANs

Here are some very common misconceptions about Wireless LANs, some of which are held, and unfortunately widely promoted, by so-called wireless experts and industry publications:
  • Misconception: Wireless LANs can be learned sufficiently at home or at work.
  • Misconception: 802.11g is the standard to use.
  • Misconception: Wireless LANs should be designed for good RF coverage.
  • Misconception: Working in a wireless Hot Spot or Wi-Fi Zone is safe.
  • Misconception: Using a cryptic SSID helps to protect our network.
  • Misconception: Hiding our SSID helps to protect our network.
  • Misconception: MAC address filters provide security.
  • Misconception: WEP is crackable easily.
  • Misconception: WEP is not crackable easily.
  • Misconception: Cisco LEAP is sufficiently secure for most organisations.
  • Misconception: WPA v1 is sufficiently secure for most organisations.
  • Misconception: AES-based security is not available yet, nor is it necessary.
  • Misconception: VPN-based solutions make wireless networks secure.
  • Misconception: Hacking into a wireless LAN is difficult.
  • Misconception: There are no insecure wireless LANs in my organisation.
  • Misconception: There are no secure wireless networks.
  • Misconception: Implementing effective wireless security is difficult.
  • Misconception: Our existing security systems and procedures will protect us when we employ wireless LANs.
  • Misconception: An RF engineer, or wireless communications consultant, can advise me on designing secure Wireless LANs.
  • Misconception: An organisation offering a wireless site survey knows what they are doing.
  • Misconception: One vendor can provide all that I need in wireless networking.
  • Misconception: Vendor-certified training and testing is best for my wireless staff.

Important Considerations with Wireless LANs

We have listed below some of the remaining considerations - more than sixty in all!

There are more than forty different vendors offering wireless LAN products, including: 3com, AirDefense, AirMagnet, Aruba, Avaya, BreezeCom, Buffalo, Bluesocket, Cisco, Colubris, Compaq, D-Link, Dell, Fortress Technologies, IBM, Intel, Intermec, Linksys, Lucent, Multipoint Networks, Netgear, Nortel, Orinoco / Proxim, Psion Teklogix, ReefEdge, Symbol, Trapeze Networks, Vernier Networks, Xircom,Young Design, Zoom Telephonics.

  1. Why are the major wireless vendors pursuing completely different strategies for wireless network design?
  2. They appear to be at odds with each other - who is right?
  3. Which architecture is right for my organisation?
  4. How can I cut through the bias, hype and limitations of industry articles, white papers, and so on?
  5. What are the primary considerations to make before bringing wireless technologies into my organisation?
  6. How should a wireless networking project be run?
  7. Which of the forty or so vendors available to me should I consider?
  8. Can one vendor provide all that I need?
  9. Should I pursue a multi-vendor strategy?
  10. What are the advantages in doing this? Are there any disadvantages?
  11. Do we really save money when we buy the cheaper Access Points?
  12. How is it that these can end up costing us far more than buying Enterprise-grade equipment, even over the medium term?
  13. Why are some early adopters of wireless networks now swapping out equipment?
  14. What are the different types of wireless Site Survey?
  15. Why do so many organisations have completely different (and many incorrect) views on:
    • The several very different types of wireless Site Survey?
    • What a wireless Site Survey involves?
    • The work that should be completed?
    • The reported findings and recommendations that we should get after site surveys?
  16. Should we outsource the wireless site survey function?
  17. Should we employ 2.4GHz or 5GHz radio technologies?
  18. Should we employ both 2.4GHz or 5GHz radio technologies and, if so, how?
  19. How should wireless networks be designed for proper RF coverage?
  20. How does 802.11b performance really compare with 802.11a and 802.11g.?
  21. How do the several vendor "Turbo", "x2", "x8", "15x" and so on proprietary methods work by comparison?
  22. Should we use them?
  23. How does mixing 802.11b equipment with 802.11g equipment degrade performance?
  24. How can we fix that?
  25. Should you employ a "FAT" or "THIN" or "FIT" Access Point architecture?
  26. What about wireless security?
  27. How can we work safely in a wireless Hot Spot or Wi-Fi Zone?
  28. How difficult is it to hack into a wireless network?
  29. How can I be sure that there are no insecure wireless LANs in my organisation?
  30. Is WEP adequate? Some say that is can be cracked, and others say that in practice it can't?
  31. Should I be hiding my SSIDs?
  32. Should I be using MAC address filters?
  33. What are the roles of 802.1X and EAP?
  34. Why shouldn't you use EAP-MD5?
  35. Is Cisco LEAP appropriate for your needs?
  36. Should we employ PEAP, or EAP-TLS, or EAP-TTLS?
  37. What are the complications when you try to employ several EAP methods?
  38. Is Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) version 1 secure?
  39. Should we employ WPA v1?
  40. How secure is the WPA shared passphrase?
  41. Do we need a RADIUS server?
  42. Is TKIP adequately secure for our needs, or should we employ AES, or some other encryption scheme?
  43. What are the issues regarding equipment purchases and AES?
  44. Do VPNs have a role in wireless networks?
  45. We have an Intrusion Detection System (IDS): do I need a wireless IDS?
  46. Do I need wireless roaming?
  47. How can using VPNs limit roaming, or prevent it completely?
  48. What about 802.11i-based security?
  49. How can our network security be breached when employees use wireless at home?
  50. Should we be employing Enterprise Wireless Gateways, from vendors such as Bluesocket, Vernier Networks or ReefEdge?
  51. What is Role Based Access Control and should we be employing it?
  52. Is Role-Based bandwidth control necessary and, if so, how should I implement it?
  53. Should we be employing Enterprise Encryption Gateways, from vendors such as Fortress Technologies?
  54. How should switched VLANs be employed with wireless networks?
  55. What are the roles products such as those from the AirMagnet range?
  56. Do we need a wireless network analyser such as WildPackets AiroPeek?
  57. How does this compare to the other vendors' wireless analysis products?
  58. Do we need to acquire RF spectrum analysers?
  59. What are the differences between units costing 5000, 3000, 1500 and 60?
  60. Which are appropriate to us and how should we be using them?
  61. What about Mesh wireless networks?
  62. Why are the vendors' Mesh network offerings so different?
  63. Are mesh networks appropriate to our organisation?
  64. If so, in which situations?
  65. What are the merits of Peer-to-Peer mesh networks?
  66. What are the merits of AP-to-AP mesh networks?
  67. How can I or my staff best learn all that we need to know about Wireless LANs?
  68. How can I cut through the bias, hype and limitations of industry articles, white papers, and so on?
  69. How can I get wireless network training or advice from a vendor-certified provider, yet still be certain of getting vendor-neutral advice?

Get the Facts!

To learn all about the latest in 802.11 technologies, including new products from new vendors, the latest strategies for securing and auditing wireless LANs, and to find out why LEVER are the leading experts in Wireless technologies, call free on 0800 138 3030 (UK) or +44 (0)113 398 3300 (International), or e-mail

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