Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 July 2010
The Internet was originally developed with little or no security. As a government-run test bed for academic research, the user community was co-operative and nobody considered the possibility that one user or group of users would undertake operations harmful to others. The commercialization of the Internet in the early to mid 1990s resulted in the rise of the potential for adversarial interactions. These interactions are motivated by various harming concerns: the desire for profit at others' expense without providing any offered value, the need to prove technical prowess by disruption, etc. The introduction of widespread, inexpensive wireless links into the Internet in the late 1990s led to additional opportunities for disruption. Unlike wired links, wireless links know no physical boundaries, so physical security measures that are effective for securing the endpoints where terminals plug into wired networks are ineffective for wireless links. Some initial attempts to secure wireless links had the opposite effect: providing the appearance of security while actually exposing the end user to sophisticated attacks. Subsequently, wireless security has become an important technical topic for research, development, and standardization.
In response to the rise of security problems on the Internet, the technical community has developed a collection of basic technologies for addressing network security. While there are special characteristics of wireless systems that in certain cases distinguish wireless network security from general network security, wireless network security is a subtopic of general network security.