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SECURITY FOR WIRELESS NETWORKS AND DEVICES
Shirley Radack, Editor
Computer Security Division
Information Technology Laboratory
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Many organizations and users have found that wireless communications and devices are convenient, flexible, and easy to use.Users of wireless local area network (WLAN) devices have flexibility to move their laptop computers from one place to another within their offices while maintaining connectivity with the network. Wireless personal networks allow users to share data and applications with network systems and other users with compatible devices, without being tied to printer cables and other peripheral device connections. Users of handheld devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and cell phones cansynchronize data between PDAs and personal computers and canuse network services such as wireless email, web browsing, and Internet access. Further, wireless communications can help organizations cut their wiring costs.
While wireless networks are exposed to many of the same risks as wired networks, they are vulnerable to additional risks as well. Wireless networks transmit data through radio frequencies, and are open to intruders unless protected. Intruders have exploited this openness to access systems, destroy or steal data, and launch attacks that tie up network bandwidth and deny service to authorized users. Another risk is the theft of the small and portable devices themselves.
NIST Guidance on Security of Wireless Networks and Devices
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, Information Technology Laboratory, has published recommendations to improve the security of wireless networks in NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-48, Wireless Network Security, 802.11, Bluetooth, and Handheld Devices. Written by Tom Karygiannis and Les Owens, NIST SP 800-48 discusses three aspects of wireless security:
security issues associated with wireless local area networks (WLANs) that are based on Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards 802.11;
security issues related to wireless personal area networks based on the Bluetooth specifications, which were developed by an industry consortium; and
security of wireless handheld devices.
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