Configuring wireless access points

Computer Studies wireless router

You can Manual configure from a web interface, one of the first things to do in configuring the router would be to change the SSID or Service set identifier, it uses a default name and this needs to be changed to a name that is not easily figured out by anyone looking to hack into the network, it's best to disable the broadcast of the SSID as well as a precautionary measure, you may need to adjust the mode settings if the computers on the network are different wireless standards from one another, such as 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n etc, also the channel frequency may also need to be adjusted if there are other networks nearby creating transmission interference, the security mode should be setup for the best available encryption for the network.

If you can only use WEP encryption it's better than having none at all but if your network can use WPA or WPA2 encryption then that's what should be enabled, MAC address filtering should be utilised for additional security measures, you can configure the access point so that only the MAC addresses that are authorised by you can only access the network, the firewall should be enabled, with access restrictions you can block URLs to certain computers on the network you can also block certain protocols, you should enable a strong password for the router.

Linux access points usually offer more choices and flexibility, customising the kernel and operating system options, low end hardware can be utilised but requires advanced Linux and networking knowledge, Linux offers a high level of security and must be configured in ESS or Extended service set mode, any Linux distribution can be used but needs to be a minimum 2.6 kernel.

Service set identifier

802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n

WEP encryption

WPA or WPA2 encryption

Extended service set mode

Configuring wireless clients

Computers can be configured manually or automatically, most operating systems are similar in the way they are configured, you need the SSID, the WEP or WPA key and the wireless configuration preferences, configuration between Windows versions, Windows 2000 does not support wireless you need to use a third party utility, Windows XP supports wireless WEP, Windows XP SP2 supports WPA and WPA2, Windows server 2003 and Vista support wireless zero configuration, if you click on the wireless icon in the task bar this will open wireless network connections properties and then you can configure the network settings, in Windows Vista click on start - control panel - network and sharing center - manage wireless networks and add a wireless network. Wireless configuration is generally similar with Linux distributions you can use both the command line or the graphical users interface, and Linux supports WPA and WPA2 encryption, not all wireless cards have Linux drivers you can use NDISwrapper for some cards which uses drivers intended for Windows, it's always best to search the vendors web site for Linux driver support, you still use the same information as with other clients, in Ubuntu select system - administration - network and network settings and configure the network, you can also use the terminal command line type in iwconfig -h. MACs exclusively use AirPort cards with full support for WPA2 encryption.

WPA key

WPA and WPA2 encryption

Troubleshooting wireless access points

Almost all configuration settings can cause connectivity problems with wireless access points, most common problems are easy to troubleshoot, working to a troubleshooting procedure and documenting changes are important, it could be incorrect SSID, incorrect encryption settings, wrong key, incorrect DHCP address range, MAC filtering turned on but the computers MAC address as not been inputted, wrong channel settings, range, electrical interference, once you have a working configuration back it up and document it.

Wireless applications

Wireless applications have become more prevalent with the need to interface with a wide range of devices, different operating systems, wireless technologies, some devices like laptops and PCs can utilise existing wireless applications and technologies, others such as PDAs, Cell phones etc require a different application programming to fit their needs, e-mail, web browsers, entertainment, music and video etc, some of the wireless devices use micro-browsers to view special versions of websites specifically designed for smaller wireless devices, utilising web enabled applications written in WML or Wireless mark-up language instead of HTML. WML is a programming language based on XML which formats content for wireless devices, WML pages are stored on a web server and the client's access the pages using the wireless application protocol or WAP, the pages are accessed through a WAP gateway, WML pages use scripting similar to JavaScript usually stored in a separate file, the pages provide the same functionality as normal HTML pages that are translated by the WAP gateway this technology may become unnecessary in the future as more mobile devices are being built to support XML and HTML.

WAP or wireless application protocol is an open standards protocol used to enable wireless devices to access the internet and the World Wide Web it's the primary protocol for most of the world's wireless-enabled internet sites, it uses multiple layers similar to the OSI and TCP/IP models, responsible for connection, security and application services, it's compatible with most operating systems and hardware, WAP1X the first version is still in use, it as a set of protocols that reside at the top four levels of the OSI model, the stack includes the wireless application environment, wireless transaction protocol, wireless session protocol, wireless transport layer security protocol and the wireless datagram protocol, this is being replaced by WAP2.0 which seeks to bring in line with standard protocols, most popular websites provide wireless content for mobile users news, e-mail, websites like Yahoo, MSN, CNN etc provide alterative sites optimised for mobile phones and PDAs, newsfeeds can be sent directly to wireless devices.



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