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Previous Issues can be accessed via the MDSinfo Archive page:

Current Issue:

MDS Computer Solutions Newsletter #5

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

By Mark Kushinsky
Edited by Faye Kushinsky

Good day all!

Contents of MDSinfo #5 :
1) Wireless Networking.
2) Subscribing & Unsubscribing!

1) Wireless Networking

1.1) Basics

With the explosion of "do-it-yourself" wireless devices at reasonable
prices I thought I would dedicate this issue of MDSInfo to explaining a
bit about wireless networks and related security best practices.

There are 3 types of wireless standards 802.11(A/B/G) with the most
popular standard slowly shifting from B to G due to higher speeds(11Mb
vs 54Mb) and better security(WEP vs WPA). Please see the chart below for
a brief comparison chart :

                   802.11b             802.11g         802.11a
Popularity    + Original standard,+ Newer Standard, + New Technology.
              + standard, very    + gaining wide    + Not many retail
              + popular.          + spread          + devices
              +                   + acceptance.     + available.
Speed         + 11 Mbps           + 54 Mbps         + 54 Mbps
Relative Cost + Inexpensive       + Reasonable      + Moderate
Range         + 100-150 feet      + 100-150 feet    + 25 to 75 feet
              + indoors           + indoors         + indoors
Security      + Most devices      + Most devices    + Depends on
              + support WEP       + support WEP     + manufacturer.
              +                   + and WPA.        +
Considerations+ Slower, most      + Uses crowded    + Limited range and
              + devices only      + 2.4 Ghz band.*  + acceptance. Uses
              + support WEP. Uses +                 + new 5 Ghz band.**
              + crowded 2.4 Ghz   +
              + band.*            +

* 2.4 Ghz devices can conflict with 2.4 Ghz cordless phones, microwaves
and other wireless devices.

** 5 Ghz devices may conflict with the new 5 Ghz cordless phones. 

1.2) Which one is right for you ?

802.11b devices are generally the least expensive while offering
moderate security options. WEP has shown to be less secure than
originally thought, more about this below.

802.11g devices tend to be moderately priced, offer faster PC to PC
transfer rates and generally include or can be upgraded to include the
more advanced WPA security protocol.

Both 802.11b and 802.11g offer the same web surfing/Internet speeds as
even Broadband Internet connections max out at about 4Mbps.

** Please note that NO wireless device(B or G) that I have ever set up
for my clients enabled ANY wireless security by default. Please see
below for a link to an article in the Toronto Sun that SHOULD scare you
if you are running a wireless network without at least WEP enabled and
SSID broadcasting disabled. 

"Drive-by net user targets kid p-rn." By KIM BRADLEY, TORONTO SUN

1.3) Securing a wireless network.

Although NO wired or wireless network is 100% secure the question you
need to ask yourself is how hard do want to make it for someone to
access your network connection and possibly your personal data ?

The good news is that it is very reasonable to secure a wireless network
unless you are using VERY old wireless networking equipment.

Recommended best practices:

* Always disable SSID broadcasts. This stops "drive by" eavesdroppers
from even knowing that your wireless network exists.
* Always enable WEP or WPA security. WPA is preferable as the device
will then swap the wireless encryption keys on a regular basis. One
downside of WEP is that the encryption key never changes and thus can be
cracked. WPA is usually only available on the newer G devices but check
with your device manufacturer.
* Hire a knowledgeable consultant, IOW me ;-), to evaluate your existing
wireless network or to setup your new wireless network. Sorry for the
cliche but in the case of wireless networking being "penny wise can be
pound foolish!"

2) Feel free to share this newsletter with anyone who you think could
benefit from the information! The only thing I request is to keep the
tag lines intact.

Subscribing & Unsubscribing can be easily handled by visiting  :

Please feel free to contact me @  or 781.344.0800 if
you have any questions!

Thanks for your support and Happy Memorial Day to you and your family!


Disclaimer: All information herein is offered as-is and without
warranty of any kind. Neither MDS Computer Solutions nor its
employees are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or
consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any information
presented here.

MDS Computer Solutions
Stoughton, Massachusetts 02072
Tel: 781.341.1435 Cell: 781.344.0800 Pager: 781.677.3550

Stoughton, MA 02072  Tel: 781.344.0800  E-Mail: