Wireless LAN Analyzers: The Ultimate Hacking Tools?

Thursday, 6 March 2003, 12:26 PM EST

Protocol analyzers are usually regarded as testing and planning tools: You don't plug one in unless you actually have a network, or at least some cable, and often not until something goes wrong.

In a Wireless LAN (WLAN), things are different. Its physical medium is the electromagnetic spectrum, which exists everywhere and respects few boundaries. Wi-Fi is now available at two different frequencies-IEEE 802.11b at 2.4GHz and IEEE 802.11a at 5GHz-and both can suffer interference from neighboring networks and other sources. The only way to know for sure which will work best in a particular environment is to perform a comprehensive site survey before buying a single access point.

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