Wireless Communications


Wireless Communications Security & Future Developments

Once you have considered the pros and cons of the various systems, there are several other issues you will need to consider.

1. Security

Networks

  • Wireless networks can be more vulnerable than traditional wired networks, although security is improving and is, to a large extent, dependent upon the user making the most of the options available. Make sure that you build in security to your WLAN

  • Make sure that access to a WLAN is password-protected; most products allow this facility but, in tests, few users had enabled it

  • Security standards are constantly evolving and you may be able to upgrade your network, so research the market thoroughly and choose upgradeable kit.

  • Always activate the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption standards that came with most WLAN networks, using the 128-bit key if possible, and remember to reset the default passwords. Better still, some WLANs use the tighter WiFi Protected Access (WPA) standard, so check what is on offer before you buy the hardware

Devices

  • Protect data: if a PDA or laptop should be lost or stolen, how quickly and efficiently can you shut down its access to the network?

  • Many handheld devices now fearture in-built security and encryption options, and off-the-shelf software can also bolster device security

2. Future Developments

Wireless services are quickly gaining popularity across the world and, as they do, products and services are being upgraded.

  • WLAN hotspots, also known as WiFi hotspots, (subscription only, pay-per-use and free for customers) are being rolled out globally. BT has plans to offer a GPRS/WLAN access package that would enable nationwide wireless connectivity using a combination of GPRS mobile phone and BT WLAN hotspot access.

  • One current issue is that different service and equipment providers may not be using agreed standards, so you’ll need to check that any products you buy will be compatible with the services you plan to use.

  • Increasingly, products and standards are being agreed and, as more WLAN hotspots appear in airports, hotels, cafes, pubs and motorway service stations, operators are beginning to get together and offer mobile phone style ‘roaming’ facilities that will mean you only need to subscribe to one service.

  • UK WLAN hotspot providers, needing at least one broadband connection to offer to users, are beginning to deliver broadband to increasingly remote areas of the UK and rural businesses may be able to ‘piggy-back’ on these extended broadband services.

  • Most WiFi networks today are based on a common set of standards (IEEE 802.11). The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is currently working on new versions of these standards that will enhance the speed and security of WLANs.

Wireless Communications business advice article: Crown Copyright © 2004-2013

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