June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.307.1 - 13.307.15
Comparative Framing Analysis for Teaching Wireless Network Mobility Abstract As wireless networking in the enterprise has gained popularity within recent years, the demand for technical talent has increased in direct proportion to that demand. This has occurred partially due to the complexity of troubleshooting and security issues. Professional wireless networking certification programs have also become popular as a result of the financial incentives associated with this demand. Since the content taught in these professional certifications is an appropriate reflection of the challenges faced in the real world as reported by Fortune magazine, it is appropriate to align the content of undergraduate wireless networking courses with that of these professional certifications.
University professors have often taken the approach of teaching 802.11 wireless networks starting from the signal processing layer and immediately transitioning to the higher layers. This process bypasses the Media Access Control (MAC) layer in consequence. Understanding the MAC layer is of utmost importance for understanding wireless network security because it contains the management frames that control both authentication and encryption. Additionally, the potential impacts and effects of the distribution system implemented are glossed over.
In this paper, a new course module was created for undergraduates that builds on a laboratory framework developed previously. The previously developed framework focused on the 802.11 and 802.3 MAC layers and can be used to facilitate teaching troubleshooting and security concepts for wireless networking with the help of packet sniffers. These modules provided students with the hands-on experience of what is generally illustrated in only text for Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), and Virtual Private Networking (VPN) as well as troubleshooting skills. The new module is geared towards upper classmen and graduate students. This module focuses on the potential distribution systems for 802.11 WLANs, including a proprietary mesh protocol, wireless distribution system, and the classic wired network.
1. Introduction The introduction of wireless networking has allowed people the freedom to access networks, including the Internet, from almost any location. This fact has been reflected, in part, by a surge in laptop sales over the recent years. Vice president of Gartner’s worldwide computing platforms, Charles Smulders, states that “Consumers are flocking to notebooks because of lower prices, better performance, and an increased appreciation for wireless technologies.”5 The increased appreciation here stems from the transparently bridging technologies. According to an engineer at Qualcomm, “One of the fundamental design goals for 802.11 is to provide services that are consistent with the services of 802.3 networks. This makes the peculiarities of wireless communication irrelevant to higher layers of the protocol stack.”10 The most important differences, therefore, lie between the wireless and the wired networking bridge as all the higher layer protocols communicate transparently over them. The simplicity and mobility of wireless networks arises from the characteristics of its contention domain which requires little infrastructure while providing service up to 300 feet.16 The contention domain works much like a wired Ethernet hub.4 This is an inherent weakness of wireless networks that can be examined for
MacDonald, R., & Malik, R., & Smith, A., & Goldman, J. (2008, June), Comparative Framing Analysis For Teaching Wireless Network Mobility Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4366
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