Wireless Security and Connection Confirmation

I am occassionally asked how to secure wireless networks and to confirm that machines are connected through the network. The two tools at our disposal are wireless encryption and the ping command. Wireless encryption comes in two versions, WEP and WPA.

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WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) is the current state-of-the-art of consumer encryption for Wi-Fi networks. Computer experts consider a WPA-encrypted wireless signal that is encrypted using a pseudo-random 63-character passphrase to be uncrackable, by today’s computing standards.

WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) is an earlier standard of Wi-Fi encryption; however, it is a simple matter to crack a WEP encryption code.

Pinging is the transmission of a short message from one computer to another to confirm that the addressed system is online. One machine transmits a ping, the other responds with a pong.

Here is an example of ping-pong messages between my notebook and my student services Web server, which is in my data center in Fort Worth, Texas.

###
C:\>ping cogitoveritas.com

Pinging cogitoveritas.com [208.65.60.103] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 208.65.60.103: bytes=32 time=42ms TTL=42
Reply from 208.65.60.103: bytes=32 time=42ms TTL=42
Reply from 208.65.60.103: bytes=32 time=41ms TTL=42
Reply from 208.65.60.103: bytes=32 time=36ms TTL=42

Ping statistics for 208.65.60.103:
Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
Minimum = 36ms, Maximum = 42ms, Average = 40ms
###

The pongs (responses to my pings) came from the computer at IP address 208.65.60.103, which is my Web server, and the mean transmission time (after four tries) between Maryland and Texas was 40ms, which is not bad.

 

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