Essay Sample: Wifi Technology, Strengths and Weaknesses

Introduction

WiFi is a trademark title, also spelled as Wifi is a form of technology which enables electronic gadgets to perform data exchange or connect to internet using wireless connectivity via a 2.4 GHz as well as 5 GHz SHF broadcasting waves.. Ideally, WiFi alliance provides a definition of WiFi as Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) components on the basis of Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) for the 802.11 standards. Nevertheless, from the fact that majority of WLAN have been built on the above standards, WiFi could also be used in common English for the WLAN.

In this regard, the WiFi products with full WiFi Alliance interoperability qualifications testing that have been recognized have the capacity and the right to use the trademark of “WiFi Certified” (Wei & Dixit, et al. 2013).

Indeed, most devices may use WiFi technology. Among them: Smartphones; PCs, tablets, video-game consoles as well as digital audio gadgets. These gadgets have the capacity to connect to network sources such as internet through the use of wireless network access point. These points have a range of approximate length, 20 meters in indoor setting while the outdoor settings may be longer.

Indeed, the overage of a single access point may be composed of small area such as single room with solid walls blocking radio waves. Similarly, the access point may also have a wide scope as large as a several square kilometres which could be achieved through multiple access points in an overwrap. However, WiFi technology can be relatively insecure compared to the wire connectivity such as Ethernet (Lee & Choi 2008).

The reason behind the latter argument is that any intruder wishing to disrupt connections does not require any physical connection to the net or technical devices using this net.. For instance, Webpages which employ SSL are perceived to be more secure than unencrypted internet connection which can be easily distorted or detected by intruders. Consequently, in order to promote WiFi security, WiFi has adopted several encryption technologies. However, early encryption by virtue of WEP was highly susceptible to easy breakage.

On the other hand, discovery of high quality encryption such as WPA improved security mechanism of WiFi. In 2007, there was a discovery of optional feature additional to WiFi commonly known as the WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) which led to increased flaws, thus, allowing WiFi attacker to convalesce the password of the router. Consequently, this issue led to updating of test plan by WiFi Alliance as well as subsequent certification programs with a view to increasing resistance to attack for newly certified gadgets (Lee & Choi 2008).

Historical Account

The word WiFi is officially adopted by a brand-consulting enterprise the Interbrand Company. Essentially, this connection uses 802.11 technologies whose origin traces back to 1985 legislation by the US government Communication Commission which dispatched ISM band intended for unsolicited use. Ideally, the 802.11 standard employs large category of patents under the control of several discrete organizations. Vic Hayes the Dutch engineer has long been dubbed the ‘father of WiFi’ as he has had long term involvement in the field of negotiation for the preliminary standards used within IEEE in the event of chairing workgroup.

Additionally, the radio astronomer, John O’Sullivan of Australia also developed important patents within the prospects of WiFi as end-products from the CSIRO research project. Indeed, this was a product of a futile experiment to reveal explosive mini-black perforations with the ultimate size of atomic particle.

In both 1992 and 1996, CSIRO, an Australian organization acquired patents for a technological procedure that was further introduced into WiFi technology to clear signals. Similarly, the WiFi Alliance further formed a trade association as of 1999 with a prospect of holding WiFi trademark which was by then used in enhanced sale of most technical products. In 2009, about 14 technology corporations assented to paying about 250 million dollars to CSIRO for contravention of CSIRO patents.

As a result, Australia further argued against WiFi to be attributed as one of the Australian inventions, although, marred by ranging controversy. Furthermore, CSIRO also won an additional 220 million dollars for further patent infringement in 2012. Of this share, the world technology firms located in the US were required to settle about 1 billion dollars worth of the CSIRO licensing rights in terms of royalties (Anniss 2014).

Official Recognition

Essentially, IEEE does not provide for testing of equipment with a view to gauging compliance with its standards. Indeed, the non-profit Alliance was created in 1999 aiming to test such compliance levels. Consequently, the WiFi Alliance was responsible for establishing as well as subsequent enforcement of the IEEE standards accruing to both backward compatibility and interoperability besides promoting wireless connection by virtue of Local Area Network technology.

In 2010, the WiFi Alliance had excess of 375 corporations across the globe. WiFi Alliance enforces WiFi usage to other technology IEEE 802.11 based standards. Among these technologies: Wireless Local Area Network connectivity, Personal Area Network as well as Local Area Networks (LAN). Manufacturers within the shield of WiFi Alliance and those whose products and services successfully passed certification are accorded the due rights to mount WiFi logo on their products as a trademark (Lau & Chang, et al. 2005).

In particular, certification process demands that all products and services conform to WPA and WPA2 security standards; IEEE 802.11 standards of radio waves as well as the EAP authentication standards. However, an optional test of IEEE 802 standard may also require certification process as well as multimedia devices. Nevertheless, not all WiFi devices are subjected to certification. Indeed, absence of certification of WiFi connection may not necessarily imply negative compatibility of the gadget and other WiFi devices.

Indeed, if the device is partially compatible, the WiFi Alliance may not provide narration for WiFi devices. However, only technically certified services may be subjected to approval or certification. Furthermore, the WiFi Alliance may not always allow for the use of derivative terminologies such as Super-WiFi which has been generated by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) of the US to explain proposed network used in UHF Tv in the country.

In order to use WiFi connections, any computer must have Wireless Network Interface Controller. The subsequent combination between a computer and interface controller is often referred to as station. Indeed, virtually all stations share a common radio frequency communication feed. Consequently, transmission on the feed (channel) is received on all stations across the range.

However, hardware does not reveal the person using it from the point of delivery of transmission. For this reason, the overall effect is known as the ‘best-effort delivery’ process. Carrier wave is also responsible for transmission of data within packets called ‘Ethernet frames’. Every station then is tuned on radio frequency channel of communication in order to pick up the available transmission (Reyes 2007).

Any WiFi enabled gadget is capable of connecting to internet in a range of wireless network connections which can be subjected to configuration with a view to enable connectivity. The scope of integrated access points commonly called hotspots can be done in any range. Ideally, coverage that allows wide area may call for a multiple access points characterized with overwrapping coverage. In particular, the outdoor WiFi technology has been successfully used and proven through cross-cutting wireless mesh networks within London in the UK.

Indeed, WiFi also provides critical services in private residential points, enterprises as well as public spaces within the space of WiFi hotspots which has been set up on free basis or on commercial basis by use of captive portal webpage for accessibility. Both organizations and businesses including airports and restaurants provide free use hotspots to attract more customers. Furthermore, some authorities or business premises wishing to promote business performances in selected regions often provide charge-free WiFi accessibility (New Hampshire Bar Association 2006).

Additionally, routers which allow to incorporate line with digital subscription modem, WiFi access points as well as cable modems frequently provide internet connections to virtually all devices connected to them via wireless connection as well as cables . On the other hand, also incorporated are battery powered routers which include cellular mobile internet connectivity via radio modem as well as access points for WiFi. In the event that one is subscribed to cellular phone carrier, this arrangement enables the cross-range stations of WiFi to be connected with internet over 3G, 2G and 4G networks.

Similarly, most smartphones also have in-built capacity for the latter internet connections such as Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry. However, in the later case, they often use carriers with disabled feature for the network connection or otherwise charge isolated fee for enabling internet access. This is mostly the case for the clients for unlimited data plans models of internet use.

Furthermore, the ‘internet packs’ provides singular facility of the 2G, 3G among others without the simulation of smartphones such as MiFi and WiBro device brands. Similarly, other samples of laptops also have the cellular modem cards which are capable of acting as mobile internet WiFi access centers. WiFi is also capable of connecting regions without due internet connectivity (Aissi & Prasad, et al. 2006).

Analysis of Strengths and Weaknesses

Essentially, one of the most common encryption standard of wireless network called the Wired Equivalent Privacy has been discovered as highly susceptible to breakage even with the utmost correct configuration. WiFi Protected Access encryption too which was invented into devices was launched in 2003 with a view to rectifying this weakness. Indeed, the access point for the WiFi networks commonly default within a free hold encryption model.

New consumers often become the beneficiaries of zero configuration gadgets which work without limit though the device does not offer any security on the wireless network connection. As a result, the outcomes are an open access to the Local Area Network connection.

In order to maintain security of the device, users must configure the gadget to the settings that enables secure use of the network. This is particularly done through typical software called Graphical User Interface (GUI). In this type of network, the connection can only be protected through other methods of protection which may include VPN and Hypertext Transfer Protocol done through a transport Layer Security (Xiao 2008).

Ideally, WiFi connections are susceptible to disruption or lowering of the internet speed through addition of multiple devices within the same area of connection. For instance, several 2.4GHz 802.11b as well as 802.11g of the access points default over a single channel of a beginner start-up. Consequently, the latter contributes to overloading and subsequent congestion within certain channels in the area of coverage.

Indeed, a condition of WiFi pollution or a setting of multiple access points within a given region particularly on neighbouring channels is also attributable to blockage of access as well as the consequent interference with neighbouring devices using other access points, a condition that results from overlapping channels particularly within the scope of 802.11 g/b spectrum besides the decreasing level of Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) across between adjacent access points. As a matter of fact, this condition can lead to significant problems, particularly, in the areas of high-density such as residential quarters and office buildings (Wei & Dixit, et al. 2013).

Besides, wireless access points also provide connection of a series of wireless devices across neighbouring wired LAN. An access point relays data between interconnected wireless gadgets besides a lonely connection of wired gadget which is often used of an Ethernet hub. Similarly, a switch may be used in place of Ethernet hub to allow wireless gadgets to give room for communication among series of wired devices within the region of network supplies. Indeed, wireless adapters also allow other gadgets to connect within the range of a wireless network model.

As a result, adapters develop connection to other gadgets via several external or internal connections which may comprise of PCI, express card, PC Card, MiniPCI and USB. With this advancement, most laptops ejecting into the market came along with built-in adapters. Furthermore, the wireless router also integrates wireless access points, switch of Ethernet as well as in-built router firmware technology which provides among others IP routing and DNS forwarding via WAN-interface.

Wireless router basically provides for wired as well as wireless Ethernet devices on a LAN with a view to enabling connections to particularly one WAN gadget. An example of such gadget includes cable modem or the new DSL modem. On the other hand, wireless router provides a total of three gadgets with the main case as the router and access point which has to be configured via a common central utility. Such utility commonly appears in form of an integrated web server which is reachable to either wireless or wired LAN customers and, at times, alternatively to WAN customers. The application may also involve use of certain computer application such as the Apple Airport managed alongside Airport Utility (Wei 2013).

Indeed, WiFi network bridges also provide connections through a wired network. However a bridge is different from access point in the sense that access point virtually connects gadgets through wired networks within the data-link layer. Basically, a couple of wireless bridges could also be used in connecting a couple of wired networks across wireless link. This form of connection is particularly useful during instances where a wired connection is unavailable as in the case of the space between two buildings.

Indeed, the wireless-extenders or repeaters could also stretch the range of pre-existing wireless network. Range-extenders placed on a point strategically could be essential in elongating signalled area while allowing the reach out into the signal area to the section around barriers. These regions include those found between elongated L-shaped corridors. Wireless gadgets which have been interconnected by virtue of the barriers are prone to suffering as a result of increased latency accruing from each hop besides that arising from reduced maximum data across the entire available data (Wei 2012).

Besides, the effects of additional users into such network using wireless range-extenders is the due consumption of the bandwidth present more rapidly relative to a case scenario where an individual use migrates around networked model using extenders. Consequently, wireless range-extenders could be attributed to excellent performance in a setting where the network is taken to support relatively low traffic across requirements.

Such situations includes scenarios of a single user with a gadget enabling WiFi connection migrating across a combination of both extended and non-extended segments of the entire connected network. In addition, wireless gadget which has been connected to any of the barriers within a chain will be subjected to data across its range with due limitations resulting from the ‘weakest link’ along the chain and between the origin of connection and the end of such connection.

As a matter of fact, the networks that use wireless extenders is also highly susceptible to degradation subject to interference arising from neighbouring access points which is adjacent to extended network and which uses the same channel with extended network. Furthermore, the security standard known as WiFi protected set up also provides for embedded gadgets under limited interface by virtue of graphical user in order to connect to internet easily.

WiFi connected set-up also comprises of double configuration namely: PIN configuration and Push Button configuration. The embedded gadgets are characterized with low power, battery-operated systems. In this regard, most WiFi manufacturers make designated products of modules and chips particularly for the embedded WiFi which may include the GainSpan among other types.

Distance Records via WiFi Connection

In distance records, most often, the non-standard gadgets are used. Such For example, the record of data transfer on 382 km which was undertaken by Ermanno Pietosemoli and his counterpart Eslaed both of whom come from Venezuela. In the latter scenario, the two were transferring approximately 3 MB by data size across the mountain from top. On the other hand, Swedish agency also transferred data on a distance of about 420km by use of a 6 watts amplifier with a view to reaching out an overhead balloon.

Over the past few years, there has been availability of intensive embedded WiFi modules with the capacity to incorporate real-time operating systems besides providing simple mechanism of enabling wireless with any device communication through a serial port.

Consequently, these advances enabled designing of simplified monitoring gadgets. For instance, one of such gadgets includes the portable ECG gadget which is used for monitoring patients at the comfort of their homes. WiFi-enabled gadgets allow communication through the internet. This turns to be a major advantage of WiFi in technological application in the medical segment of the patients care.

Technical manufacture of WiFi modules are done by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) with a view to enabling implementers to be at a simpler task of minimal knowledge of WiFi technology in providing services pertaining to WiFi connectivity regarding their own products (Stefanakis 2006).

By raising the number of WiFi access points, the resultant scenario provides a situation of network redundancy. Furthermore, this moves also the aggregate network capacity besides increasing support for rapid roaming via the use of channels or creating smaller cells.

Except cases of minute implementation of WiFi connection, WiFi implementation has actually migrated to a segment of ‘narrowed’ access point with multiple network intelligence installed within a centralized network machine, thus, downgrading the individual access point towards the ‘dumb’ transceivers. Similarly, outdoor applications may also employ the mesh topologies (Wei & Dixit, et al. 2013).

Security of Networks

Essentially, use of WiFi technology raises a point of network security, due to its ease of access by the intruders compared with the traditional wired network mediums such as the Ethernet. In the case of wired networking, an individual must have access to building seclusion by virtue of physical advancement or the breaking in via external firewall. In order to enable WiFi one needs to be simply within the range of wireless connection.

Most enterprises’ networks guard against intrusion for destruction of highly sensitive systems as well as data through protection against external access. Consequently, enabling capacity for the wireless connectivity generally limits security in the event that networks employ insufficient or virtually none encryption mechanisms. Indeed, if an attacker gains access to WiFi network, the router may commence DNS spoofing assail inconveniencing any other user within the region through forgery of responses prior to query DNS server response generation. It is, perhaps, one of the main weaknesses of WiFi technology (Burke 2006).

Security Mechanism

Basically, the main measure of unauthorized usage of data may involve the process of concealing the name of access point through the prompt of disabling SSID broadcast. This method is particularly effective for securing casual user. However, it may not be very effective in securing the network, since SSID is often broadcast clearly in response to the customers’ SSID questions. A second method of securing WiFi network is through the process of allowing only computers with renowned MAC addresses as the only legitimate computers to join the WiFi network.

However, determined non-clients may also chip in through network-spoofing via authorized addresses. Essentially, the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is a form of encryption which was designed with a view to protecting against casual snooping though has lost value in securing networks. Indeed, such tools as AirSnorts are capable of fast recovery of WEP encryption settings.

Due to the weakness of WEP, the WiFi Alliance certified WiFi Protected Access which was designed to operate in a setting of old equipment mostly by use of firmware upgrade. Although, WPA is significantly more secure as compared to WEP, this method is also characterized with some level of susceptibility to breakage (Laudon & Brabston, et al. 2011).

In 2004, WPA2 was introduced into the market as an advanced encryption standard which is supported by most new WiFi-enabled gadgets. Indeed, the WPA2 is particularly wholly compatible relative to the WPA encryption. In 2007, another flaw of feature was added into WiFi encryption commonly called the WiFi protected Set-up. The latter blend could allow both WPA and WPA2 to be ‘high-jacked’ and broken into under several circumstances.

This marked a major setback to the WiFi technology as far as security is concerned and, therefore, a weakness in the WiFi upstream mechanism. Indeed, the only way that protection of WiFi network has remained turning off the network setup though such mechanism has not been always possible. This makes the WiFi technology to be marred with a mass of challenges particularly with integrating security (Wei & Dixit, et al. 2013).

Piggybacking

Piggybacking is also another setback of the WiFi technology. It basically refers to the contact to wireless internet connection through adjacent placement of personal computer within the given range in which another wireless connection is mapped. This also involves using such service without due permission of the subscriber or his knowledge either. In the early adoption of population with respect to 802.11, the provision of free access to network for all persons within the range of WiFi network was a universally encouraged move that was meant for promotion of wireless community network. It is perhaps for the reason that individuals only use a fraction of their particular downstream bandwidth for any given time.

Consequently, the recreational logging as well as mapping of other individuals’ access points is now commonly known as wardriving. Essentially, most access points have been intentionally created in absence of any security mechanism with a view to attracting community members into the free usage. However, provision of internet connections in this manner may lead to a breach of terms and conditions of service as well as contracts as per the ISP provision.

Indeed, such activities do not lead to any form of sanctions for the most typical jurisdictions. However, it is clear that both case laws and legislation have varying scope and perspectives globally (Robertazzi 2007).

Piggybacking, however, occurs in unintentional scenarios. Ideally, majority of access points are generally configured without due encryption particularly through default. Besides, operating systems may also be configured with a view to making automatic connections to available wireless networks. Users who happen to switch on laptops in a locality of access point may discover that the computer has integrated the network without any physical indication.

Additionally, any user intending to join a single network may end in another if the preferred has relatively weaker signals to the already engaged. Besides automatic discovery of multiple network resource, the impact of the latter is that seeking a probable destination an individual may send important data to wrong recipient.

For instance, a network consumer could use network without due security in login into particular website. In this regard, the user would end up making hiscredentials into the public domain for all consumers listening particularly if the website intended to login use unprotected protocol. Such unsecure protocols include HTTP among others (Wei & Dixit, et al. 2013).

However, though the exposure to WiFi technology has been mythically attributed to ill-health, World Health Organization (WHO) has proved this myth to be untrue. Essentially, WHO asserts that any individual face no risk in the event of long-term exposure to WiFi networks. Furthermore, the United Kingdom Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirms that exposure to WiFi for one year is equivalent to exposure to radiation resulting from a 20 minutes from a mobile phone call. Further studies involving 725 persons who had been claiming of the longevity in electromagnetic hypersensitivity revealed no evidence as acclaimed. Finally, this paper focuses on benefits and disadvantages of WiFi technology (Anniss 2014).

Benefits

The WiFi LAN is a popular network in the modern day technological advancement particularly in the computer technology. Essentially, WiFi is preferred as opposed to other networks connectivity due to easy integration capacity, cost efficiency and overall convenience even at the point of usage with other components and networks.

Most computers sold today have pre-equipped WiFi enabled with the requisite wireless technology. To begin with, WiFi is considerably convenient. The nature of networks provides the users with access network at the most convenient location particularly within the individuals’ or corporate networking environment. Indeed, this technology is vital in the modern times characterized by incredibly high number of computer users (Wei & Dixit, et al. 2013).

Secondly, the network is also mobile. With the emerging state of public wireless networks, users can reach out to internet connections even away from the usual working environment. For instance, majority of the chain coffee shops provide their clients with wireless internet connection with or without any fee. Productivity is also another benefit of WiFi technology. Ideally, users with WiFi internet connections are capable of maintaining virtually invariable affiliation with individually preferred networks as they step out from one place to another.

In the business scenario, this may imply that a worker can produce potentially due to convenience of location at the time of work. Furthermore, WiFi also provides for deployment. Setting up of the prime infrastructural-based network may require more than the cost of one access point. On the other hand, establishment of wired network incurres additional costs as well as complexity of the physical network of cables running to different locations. WiFi technology is also highly expandable.

Indeed, the wireless network is capable of serving significantly increasing number of clients without increasing equipment and physical infrastructure. On the other hand, wired network increase in the number of clients would imply increasing wiring connectivity (Miles & Williams, et al. 2008).

WiFi technology also engages a hardware cost at a modest value of the cost of hardware for the wired network. As a result, the cost of hardware equipment basically deflates the costs of WiFi hardware relative to its wired counterpart.

Furthermore, the overall costs is further pressed downwards by the savings attributable to the low labor and other associated costs of running a network of physical cables. WiFi also provides for cheap deployment with respect to Local Area Network (LAN). Similarly, WiFi technology also leaves considerable amount of space that could have otherwise be taken by the crss-crossing wire if in the case of wired networks (Wei & Dixit, et al. 2013).

Weaknesses

Essentially, in any networking process, the wireless connection for a LAN may be undesirable to several limitations pertaining to technology. For instance, WiFi technology of internet connection may not have the desirable security mechanisms put in place. With the available encryption technology, none of the current technologies provides a security blanket for the data.

With respect to range, it is apparent that a typical range of an ordinary 802.11g network with the standard equipment often appears in a standard ten square meters. Though such size could be sufficient in a home setting, the same may not provide sufficient networking in a larger facility. In order to engage an additional range, bridges and additional access points must be purchased. (Wei 2012).

Similarly, the WiFi technology is less reliable compared to its wired counterpart. Indeed, the wireless signals are highly susceptible to several interferences besides having a complex propagation effect which flies beyond the capacity of network administrator. This reduces reliability of the network. Furthermore, most wireless networks have a speed range between 1 and 54 Mbps. This speed is typically slow compared to even the slowest named wired networks which range between 100 Mbps and above.

However, the network may be installed as a throughput comprising of wired network as a necessity. Finally, WiFi technology has been subject to a wide range of expansion over past few years. This has led to setting up of the cost-effective common standard referred to as 802.11g with a maximum transfer speed at about 54 Mbps (Wei 2012).

Reference List

Aissi, S, Dabbous, N & Prasad, A 2006, Security for mobile networks and platforms, Artech House, Norwood, MA.

Anniss, M 2014, How does WiFi work?, Gareth Stevens Publishing.

Burke, J 2006, Neal-Schuman library technology companion: a basic guide for library staff, Neal-Schuman Publishers, New York.

Lau, R, Khare, R & Chang, WY 2005, Service assurance for voice over WiFi and 3G networks, Artech House, Boston.

Lee, BG & Choi, S 2008, Broadband wireless access and local networks: mobile WiMax and WiFi, Artech House, Boston, Mass.

Laudon, KC, Laudon, JP & Brabston, ME 2011, Management information systems: managing the digital firm, Pearson Prentice Hall, Toronto.

Miles, SB, Sarma, SE & Williams, JR 2008, RFID technology and applications, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

New Hampshire Bar Association 2006, The high tech crystal ball, New Hampshire Bar Association, Concord, N.H.

Reyes, A 2007, Cyber crime investigations: bridging the gaps between security professionals,law enforcement, and prosecutors, Syngress Pub, Rockland, MA.

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Stefanakis, E 2006, Geographic hypermedia: concepts and systems, Springer, Berlin.

Wei, H-Y, Rykowski, J & Dixit, S 2013, WiFi, WiMAX and LTE multi-hop networks: Basic communication protocols and application areas, Wiley, Oxford.

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Wei, H-Y 2012, WIFI, John Wiley & Sons, Chicester.

Xiao, Y 2008, WiMAX/MobileFi: advanced research and technology, AuerbachPublications, New York.

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