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Chapter 14. Securing Your Privacy Using ... > Disadvantages of Wireless

Disadvantages of Wireless

One of the most obvious problems with wireless is the fact that you cannot easily control where the waves carrying your data will stop. The waves do not simply stop when they reach a wall or the boundary of a business; rather, they keep traveling into parking lots and other businesses in an expanding circle from the broadcast point. It's impossible to limit the wireless network to specific rooms in a building. With this type of network, you gain the ability to have connectivity in more places, but you lose the ability to tightly control where those waves can go.

This introduces the risk of unintended parties eavesdropping on network traffic from parking areas, streets, alleys, or any other place where a laptop can be set up to intercept the signals. Although 802.11b standards specify that the range of a broadcast is only 150–300 feet, in reality, the signal travels much farther. Beyond these distances, signals are weakened to the point that normal wireless cards cannot detect them with their small antennas. However, high-gain antennas can be used to amplify, detect, and analyze these weak signals far beyond the 300-foot range (vertically as well as horizontally). This is a serious consideration in multistory apartment buildings and offices. Even though your access point is set up in your 3rd floor apartment, its waves can potentially reach an apartment that is much higher.


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