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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: February 2010

2 - Wireless security


Wireless networks are typically divided into three classes depending on their range of transmissions. We have personal area networks (PANS) that have a very low transmission range, of the order of several meters; Bluetooth happens to be the representative network or technology when wireless personal area networks are mentioned. On a slightly larger transmission scale, of the order of 100–200 meters, we have wireless local area networks (LANs), known as 802.11 or WiFi, which are very well deployed all over the world. The personal area and local area networks have been primarily designed for indoor applications. Networks that have transmission in the range of several kilometers are known as wireless wide area networks (WANs), and cellular networks of different vintages are prime examples of such networks. So any discussion of security in a wireless environment will not be complete unless the proposed security schemes for these three distinct networks are examined. In this chapter, I briefly go over the security schemes of wireless PAN, LAN, and WAN networks. For readers interested in knowing more about these topics, appropriate references are highlighted. I begin this chapter by discussing WiFi security, followed by cellular network security, and concluding with the security of personal area networks.

Wireless local area networks (IEEE 802.11) security


A wireless local area network (WLAN) is a flexible data communication system implemented as an extension to, or as an alternative to, a wired LAN. Wireless local area networks transmit and receive data over the air via RF technology, minimizing the need for any wired connections, and in turn, combining data connectivity with user mobility.

IEEE Standard 802.11, 1999 Edition (R2003) (ISO/IEC 8802–11:1999), IEEE Standard for Information Technology – Telecommunications and Information Exchange between Systems – Local And Metropolitan Area Network Specification Requirements – Part II. Wireless LAN Medium Aceess Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications, 1999.
Bing, B., Wireless Local Area Networks, John Wiley and Sons, 2002.
IEEE 802.11 Study Group,
R. Housely and D. Whiting, Temporal Key Hash, IEEE Standard 802.11-01/550.
R. Housely, D. Whiting, and N. Ferguson, Alternative Temporal Key Hash, IEEE Standard 802.11i, 11-02-282r0.
T. Moore and C. Chaplin, TGi Security Overview, IEEE Standard 802.11i, 10-02-114r1.
National Institute of Standards and Technology,
P. Rogaway,
S. Frankel, R. Glenn, and S. Kelly, “The AES-CBC Cipher Algorithm and Its Use with IPSec,, 2003.
R. Housely, D. Whiting, and N. Fergusen, AES-CTR-Mode-with-CBC-MAC, 80211-02-001r1.
3rd Generation Partnership Project: Technical Specification Group (Services and System Aspects) 3G Security; Specifications of A5/3 Encryption Algorithms for GSM and ECSD, and the GEA3 Encryption Algorithm for GPRS; Document 1:A5/3 and GEA3 Specifications (Release 6), 3GPP TS 55.216, ver. 6.2.0, 2003.
ETSI, Digital Cellular Telecommunications System (Phase 2 +), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS); Service Description; Stage 2, GSM 03.60, ver. 6.4.0, 1997.
3GPP Technical Specifications:
Kaaranen, H., Ahitiainen, A., Laitinen, L., Naghian, S., and Niemi, V., UMTS Networks: Architecture, Mobility, and Services, John Wiley and Sons, 2001.
Bisdikian, C., Bhagwat, P., Gaucher, B., et al., “WiSAP – A wireless personal access network for handheld computing devices,” IEEE Personal Commun., vol. 5, no. 6, 1998, pp. 18–25.
Bluetooth SIG, Bluetooth – Specification of the Bluetooth System, vol. 1, core, ver. 1.1.