Suppose I have a picture that I have been given. This picture is not something that the owner wants shown to the world so they have given me a list of people that can see it. When someone wants to see it I ask them who they are and if their name is on the list I show it to them. However, this plan is not working out that well so the owner decides to add some requirements. Now when someone wants to see the picture they have to show ID. Still people are getting around that with fake IDs, so now the owner gives out a special code word that is unique to each person while still maintaining the requirement for ID. To make things even more secure I have a picture of each person and a copy of their ID. What I have described here is a very simple explanation of the way that some of the different levels of encryption work; from the very basic to much more complex routines. In this article we will be talking about encryption as it relates to wireless access points and we can tell you up front you will be surprised at how insecure some of them are.
When it comes to technology there are things that we as consumers just expect to work. We do not have the time, or even the inclination, to worry about the details on these items, we just want to plug them in and go. One of these is our networking products, and in particular wireless networking. We see a device with the letter “n” on it and we automatically assume it is going to give us 300Mbps (Megabits Per Second). The problem with this approach is that wireless technology is as varied as versions of Windows 7 (another item we lump into one group… but that is another article) and cannot all be lumped into one category because of a specification number or letter on the box. With this in mind we are going to talk about some of the major points of wireless networking and how to spot the pretenders from products with real performance.