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Chapter 2. Getting Wireless Connections:... > Features and Considerations

Features and Considerations

To ensure that you get compatible 802.11b products, look for the Wi-Fi logo on the cards and access points that you purchase. This Wi-Fi logo is an official “seal of interoperability” granted to select products by the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA). You should also check that your card supports your own operating system on your laptop or PDA. Most cards will support the typical flavors of Windows, including Windows 95/98, Windows NT 4.0, Windows CE 2.11 and 3.0, Windows 2000, and Windows ME.

An often-mentioned technical consideration for wireless LANs is their security vulnerabilities. Without the right level of access control, authentication, and encryption, anyone in range of the wireless signals’ dispersion pattern can get onto the network and access your data. The best way to prevent this is to ensure that you turn on the security settings within the wireless access point. These typically can be configured by using a browser and entering an address that corresponds to the wireless access point itself. This is often something such as http://192.168.1.1 and is specified within the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Using the administrative Web pages within the browser, you can then turn the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) setting from its default “disabled” setting to “mandatory.” WEP is a form of encryption that can be used to encrypt your data while in transit over the air. As an additional security consideration, be sure to change the wireless access point password from its default setting of something like “admin” to a password that is more secure.


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