The lowdown on wireless LAN

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WiFi grows up

A guide to wireless LAN products is necessarily rife with acronyms. Here's what you need to know to make sense of the WiFi landscape.

3DES: Triple data encryption standard; as its name implies, it encrypts data three times for an overall key length of 192 bits.

AES: Advanced encryption standard; a 128-bit encryption technique favored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

CLI: Command line interface; a common user interface from the MS-DOS days.
EAP: Extensible authentication protocol; a standard method of verifying a user's identity on a wireless network.

LWAPP: Lightweight access point protocol; an open standard for building heterogeneous wireless networks with centralized management. Not all vendors use it.

SNMP: Simple network management protocol; newer versions add more management features.

TKIP: Temporal key integrity protocol; next generation of WEP (see below) and part of the IEEE 802.11i standard.

VLAN: Virtual local area network; configured in software rather than hardware, VLANs keep a portable computer on the same network when it moves around.

WEP: Wired equivalent privacy; the security protocol for 802.11b wireless networks, commonly criticized for being insecure.

WMM: WiFi Multimedia; based on a subset of the 802.11e quality-of-service standard, it improves audio, video and voice applications over wireless networks.

WPA, WPA2: WiFi protected access, versions 1 and 2; improves on WEP by adding EAP and TKIP; WPA2 is based on the new 802.11i wireless security standard that includes AES.

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