Wireless networking is emerging as a significant aspect of internetworking. It presents a set of unique issues based on the fact that the only limit to a wireless network is the radio signal strength. There is no wiring to define membership in a network. There is no physical method to restrict a system in radio range to be a member of a wireless network. Wireless networking, more than any other networking technology, needs an authentication and access control mechanism. The IEEE 802.11 group has defined standards for Wireless LAN implementation including both radio standards and networking protocol standards. The intent of these standards is to provide a wireless Ethernet capability. The 802.11 standard has specified the use of 802.1x authentication mechanisms for authenticating user
access to the LAN. Parts of both 802.11 and 802.1x are being updated and clarified based on experience with its initial deployments. This paper looks at 802.11 access authentication issues, the existing and proposed technologies, and scenarios for use. It also provides our understanding of proposed changes to the standard to make it more secure and robust. It does not deal with radio standards.
This paper concentrates on authentication services for 802.11 (WLAN) in what is referred to as Infrastructure mode.
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