802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide
Creating and Administering Wireless Networks
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: April 2002
Pages: 464

As a network administrator, architect, or security professional, you need to understand the capabilities, limitations, and risks associated with integrating wireless LAN technology into your current infrastructure. 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide provides all the information necessary to analyze and deploy wireless networks with confidence.

Over the past five years, the world has become increasingly mobile. Traditional ways of networking have altered to accommodate new lifestyles and ways of working. Wireless networks offer several advantages over fixed (or wired) networks, with mobility, flexibility, ease and speed of deployment, and low-cost at the top of the list. Large productivity gains are possible when developers, students, and professionals are able to access data on the move. Ad-hoc meetings in the lunch room, library, or across the street in the café allow you to develop ideas collaboratively and act on them right away. Wireless networks are typically very flexible, which can translate into rapid deployment. Once the infrastructure is in place, adding new users is just a matter of authorization.

After a general introduction to wireless networks, this practical book moves quickly into the gory details of the 802.11 standard. If you ever need to debug a wireless network that isn't working properly, you'd better understand this material. 802.11 MAC (Media Access Control), detailed 802.11 framing, WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy protocol), 802.1x, management operations, and the PCF (point coordination function) are all covered in detail. Author Matthew Gast also supplies impressive detail on the physical layers.

As for getting a wireless network up and running... Gast offers clear, no-nonsense guide for using 802.11 on Windows and Linux, using and selecting access points, making deployment considerations, and seeing to 802.11 network monitoring and performance tuning. In the final section of the book, he summarizes the standardization work pending in the 802.11 working group.

If you're looking for one book that provides a full spectrum view of 802.11, from the minute details of the specification, to deployment, monitoring, and troubleshooting, 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide is worth its weight in gold.

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O'Reilly Media802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide
 
4.5

(based on 6 reviews)

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(4 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide Review

By Marie

from Undisclosed

Comments about O'Reilly Media 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide:

802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide's coverage of 802.11 issues was both broad and deep. Linux installs, Windows installs, WEP, access points, network deployment, network analyzers, Medium Access Control and Apple airport issues were well covered topics.

Marie

 
5.0

802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide Review

By MC

from Undisclosed

Comments about O'Reilly Media 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide:

Pros

+ Great overall discussion of securing wireless networks

+ Comprehensive guide for planning, purchasing, implementing and securing a wireless network

+ Provides case studies of wireless networks to support the lessons from the book

Cons

- None

MC

-webmaster of Extra reviews

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide Review

By Mike T.

from Undisclosed

Comments about O'Reilly Media 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide:

This book describes a most dynamic technology. Much of what is described is history. Yet it does provide insight although I often wish it provided more technical details: show us some math involved such as FFT or a good reference to such details.

I would give it 5 stars if it dived into the firmware or software more. The book skims details like a small pebble skims across the top of the water.

Good job with a difficult topic!

(0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide Review

By fsterman

from Undisclosed

Comments about O'Reilly Media 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide:

Very good book, like it a lot. It does a lot of zooming in on very specific low level stuff, but just skip those chapters if you don't want them. This book is more about wireless than implimenting it. It does comment on possible pitfalls when describing a part of the tech. It does not say that "If you can't get a signal in this situation" it reads more like "Ohh, and this is the reason you get that one problem." Very good book for the fundamentals of the technology not the implimentation

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide Review

By Craig Pfeifer

from Undisclosed

Comments about O'Reilly Media 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide:

The Scenario

For a lot of folks, implementing an 802.11 network involves selecting and purchasing an access point and adapter cards, and installing or compiling the proper drivers. From there, we are off and running, usually in under an hour. However for the few, the proud, the sysadmins of the world it's a whole different ballgame. Sysadmins need a deeper understanding of network technologies to be able effectively design, deploy and debug them.

What's Bad?

Most of the book is right on the mark when it comes to the sysadmin audience, however chapters 8 (the PCF, for contention free service), 10 (the ISM PHYs), 11 (802.11a overview) are only of interest to folks who are implementing 802.11 hardware, IMHO. These chapters contain very low level material about the 802.11 transmisison protocol, and will not be generally useful since equipment manufacturers do not provide access to this layer. A dead giveaway that you can skip over chapter 8 is the phrase "The PCF has not been widely implemented." If it's not widely implemented, chances are you won't have the option of using it in a deployment.

After this bellycrawl through the weeds, chapters 12 and 14 give click by click instructions about installing two commercially available 802.11 access point/client adapter pairs on your Windows box. The selected products are Nokia's A032 Access Point along with their C110/C111 and Lucent's Orinoco (formerly WaveLan) Access Point and client adapter. It's worth noting that these are two of the most expensive 802.11 solutions available on the market and have enhanced features that are not present in other models. These chapters are simply rehashed vendor installation documentation for these products and provide very little addede value. There's nothing that I hate more than paying $30-$50 for a book which repackages documentation that is freely available on the web. Skip these chapters, the rest of the book is excellent.

What's Good?

This book starts off with six strong chapters that cover the 802.11 protocol specification, why WEP is vulnerable and some of the upcoming security specifications. The first six chapters are invaluable reading for any sysadmin that is planning/currently responsible for an 802.11 deployment. This is your ammunition when users come and ask why the wireless network is slower than the wired network with fewer users (preventing contention adds more overhead in wireless) or why they really really should tunnel every wireless connection over SSH (because WEP is fundamentally flawed). The chapter that covers the current WEP implementation demystifies the "40 bit" vs. "64 bit" key length sleight of hand that some vendors play. The standard WEP key length is 64 bits. However, 24 of those bits are used as WEP's initialization vector for the RC4 cipher. These bits aren't encrypted in an 802.11 packet, so by sniffing 802.11 traffic you can examine the IVs of the packets and see how many distict keys are in use, and even retrieve the actual key once you have captured enough packets. AirSnort retrieves WEP keys by implementing the Fluhrer/Martin/Shamir attack (orig paper, Stubblefield paper). Chapter 16 covers using tools such as Airsnort and Ethereal to analyze the 802.11 traffic on your network. Remember to use your powers for good and not evil.

The final 3 chapters address deployment, analysis and tuning of 802.11 networks. These chapters, combined with the first six are the heart of this book and the whole motivation for buying the book. The analysis chapter has a particularly wonderful section about gathering user requirements with respect to 802.11 specific issues (security requirements, roaming...) and a very practical section about physical installation that clearly illustrates the author's mastery of integrating 802.11 technologies into an existing infrastructure.

So What's In It For Me?

If you're an sysadmin and implementing 802.11 technologies is on the horizon, this book is a solid reference of the current state of 802.11 solutions, the good and bad. It pulls no punches in presenting issues and weaknesses with the current solutions and documents forthcoming standards that are being proposed/developed to address them. If you're considering a smaller deployment at home, the security aspects of the text are still applicable, but the design/deployment sections are more rigorous than you will need. There is a bit of starch (repackaged vendor installation documentation) and unnecessary details (knowing that 802.11 frequency hopping uses Gaussian frequency shift keying is good for impressing women at parties, but doesn't really impact the design/deployment of an 802.11 network) but the other chapters redeem themselves and make this a very valuable text.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide Review

By John D. Alexander

from Undisclosed

Comments about O'Reilly Media 802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide:

802.11 Wireless Networks: The Definitive Guide is a easy to read

well organized reference. It was a welcome addition to my network

integration library. I highly recommend this book.

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