According to abbreviationfinder.org, WiFi stands for Wireless Fidelity.
When it comes to wireless connections, it is not difficult for anyone to intercept communication and have access to our flow of information. For this reason, transmission encryption is recommended to broadcast in a secure environment. This is possible thanks to WPA, much more secure than its predecessor WEP and with new security features, such as the dynamic generation of the access key. For more advanced users there is the possibility of configuring the access point to broadcast only to certain devices. Using the MAC address, a unique identifier of the devices assigned during its construction, and allowing access only to installed devices.
There is no difference between a Network with cables (coaxial cable, fiber optic, etc.) and wireless. The difference is that wireless networks transmit and receive data through electromagnetic waves, which means eliminating the use of cables and, therefore, total flexibility in communications.
Safety and reliability
One of the problems that Wi-Fi technology currently faces is the progressive saturation of the radioelectric spectrum, due to the overcrowding of users, this especially affects long distance connections (greater than 100 meters).
In fact Wi-Fi is designed to connect computers to the network at short distances, any use of greater range is exposed to an excessive risk of interference.
A very high percentage of networks are installed without taking security into consideration, thus turning their networks into open networks (or completely vulnerable to crackers), without protecting the information that circulates through them.
There are several alternatives to guarantee the security of these networks. The most common are the use of data encryption protocols for Wi-Fi standards such as WEP, WPA, or WPA2 that are responsible for encoding the information transmitted to protect its confidentiality, provided by the wireless devices themselves. Most of the ways are as follows:
- WEP encrypts the data on your network so that only the intended recipient can access it. 64-bit and 128-bit encryption are two levels of WEP security. WEP encrypts data using an encryption “key” before sending it over the air. This type of encryption is not highly recommended, due to the great vulnerabilities it presents, since any cracker can get the key.
- WPA: Presents improvements such as dynamic generation of the access key. Keys are inserted as alphanumeric digits, without length restriction
- IPSEC (IP tunnels): In the case of VPNs and the IEEE 1X set of standards, which allows user authentication and authorization.
- MAC filtering, so that only authorized devices are allowed access to the network. It is the most recommended if it is only going to be used with the same equipment, and if there are few.
- Hiding the access point: You can hide the access point (Router) so that it is invisible to other users.
- The security protocol called WPA2 (802.11i standard), which is an improvement over WPA. In principle, it is the most secure security protocol for Wi-Fi at the moment. However they require compatible hardware and software, as the old ones are not.
However, there is no totally reliable alternative, since all of them are susceptible to being violated.
Advantages and disadvantages
Wi-Fi networks have a series of advantages, among which we can highlight:
- Being wireless networks, the convenience they offer is far superior to wired networks because anyone who has access to the network can connect from different points within a sufficiently wide range of space.
- Once configured, Wi-Fi networks allow the access of multiple computers without any problem or expense in infrastructure, not so in cable technology.
- The Wi-Fi Alliance ensures that the compatibility between devices with the Wi-Fi brand is total, so that anywhere in the world we can use Wi-Fi technology with full compatibility.
But as a wireless network, Wi-Fi technology presents the inherent problems of any wireless technology. Some of them are:
- One of the disadvantages of the Wi-Fi system is a lower speed compared to a wired connection, due to interference and signal losses that the environment can cause.
- The fundamental disadvantage of these networks exists in the field of security. There are some programs capable of capturing packets, working with your Wi-Fi card in promiscuous mode, so that they can calculate the network password, and thus access it. WEP- type keys are relatively easy to get with this system.
The Wi-Fi alliance fixed these problems by releasing the WPA standard and later WPA2, based on the 802.11i working group. Networks protected with WPA2 are considered robust as they provide very good security. However, many companies do not allow their employees to have a wireless network.
This problem is aggravated if we consider that the coverage area of a connection cannot be controlled, so that a receiver can be connected from outside the intended reception area (eg from outside an office, from an adjoining house).
- It should be noted that this technology is not compatible with other types of wireless connections such as Bluetooth, GPRS, UMTS, etc.