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REVIEW: "Building Secure Wireless Networks with 802.11", Jahanzeb Khan/Anis Khwaja

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKBSWNW8.RVW 20030208 Building Secure Wireless Networks with 802.11 , Jahanzeb Khan/Anis Khwaja, 2003, 0-471-23715-9, U$40.00/C$62.95/UK#29.95 %A Jahanzeb
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 25, 2003
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      BKBSWNW8.RVW 20030208

      "Building Secure Wireless Networks with 802.11", Jahanzeb Khan/Anis
      Khwaja, 2003, 0-471-23715-9, U$40.00/C$62.95/UK#29.95
      %A Jahanzeb Khan
      %A Anis Khwaja
      %C 5353 Dundas Street West, 4th Floor, Etobicoke, ON M9B 6H8
      %D 2003
      %G 0-471-23715-9
      %I John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
      %O U$40.00/C$62.95/UK#29.95 416-236-4433 fax: 416-236-4448
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0471237159/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0471237159/robsladesin03-20
      %P 330 p.
      %T "Building Secure Wireless Networks with 802.11"

      As with any hot topic, there are lots of people willing (eager!) to
      tell you about the security of wireless local area networks, without
      first making sure that they really know the subject.

      Part one is an introduction to wireless LANs. Chapter one is a
      history of networks, an outline of topologies (concentrating on
      cabling, interestingly enough), and a review of the TCP/IP (actually
      OSI, [Open Systems Interconnection] protocol stack. The last page
      gives too little information for an exercise in setting up a home LAN.
      Terms in regard to wireless technology are listed in chapter two, but
      the material is verbose without being informative. The explanations
      given for spectrum multiplexing are unclear, and seem to be delivered
      by rote without any understanding. The discussion does not build on
      that from chapter one to, for example, point out that ad hoc wireless
      networks are similar to bus topologies, while infrastructure networks
      are more akin to stars. The various IEEE (Institute of Electrical and
      Electronics Engineers) 802.11 standards are listed in chapter three.
      However, there is a great deal of material repeated from prior text
      (the discussion of spectrum is reprised almost word for word), and,
      other than some frequency and maximum bandwidth information, there is
      little additional detail. (Repetition and duplication is rife
      throughout the book, as well as a good deal of space wasted with
      pointless figures and graphics. On page 125 we are told that "The 40-
      bit shared key is concatenated with a 24-bit long initialization
      vector" and referred to figure 6.1. Figure 6.1 tells us
      "Concatenated-Key = Shared-Key + IV." Not very helpful.) Chapter
      four is supposed to help you decide whether a wireless LAN is right
      for you, but only has some vague opining, a little content on wireless
      ISPs (Internet Service Providers: hardly suitable for LAN
      discussions), and almost no analysis or details.

      Part two purports to emphasize secure wireless LANs. Chapter five has
      random topics regarding network security. Most of it is irrelevant to
      the specific needs of wireless situations or is not discussed in terms
      of the particular needs of wireless networks. (Physically securing
      the components of a wireless LAN has some importance in overall
      security, but may be pointless if someone driving by can take over the
      network). Securing the IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN is not reviewed well
      in chapter six. There is more duplication of content, few details
      about WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), and some clear evidence of
      misunderstanding of the base technologies. (If you are going to talk
      about 40 bit keys at the low level, higher level security should be
      104, rather than 128, bit. And a 128 bit key is *not* equivalent to
      64 characters, in anybody's representation.) When security aspects
      are discussed, often they relate to issues that are beyond the control
      of the user, such as moderation of signal strength.

      Part three collects topics related to the building of secure wireless
      LANs. Chapter seven is a simplistic overview of generic LAN planning.
      Shopping for the right equipment is important, but the list of product
      specifications in chapter eight fails to address vital areas, such as
      driver availability, default key length, and the existence of default
      accounts. More space is devoted to where you can buy equipment than
      how to evaluate it. The installation instructions, in chapter nine,
      pretty much ignore security considerations. Chapter ten supposedly
      deals with advanced wireless LANs, including security, but has little
      new material aside from screenshots of Microsoft Windows utilities
      with some relationship to VPNs (Virtual Private Networks).

      Part four covers troubleshooting and maintenance. Chapter eleven
      touches on a number of possibly wireless connectivity problems. A
      collection of text repeated from prior chapters is in chapter twelve.

      There is a glossary included with the book. It is quite limited, and,
      in particular, does not deal well with acronyms. In fact, the book is
      full of TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) and other abbreviations that get
      used before they are defined, and do not appear in either the glossary
      or the index. This can be quite aggravating, particularly in cases
      where the acronyms aren't standard. (The authors use "PHY" to refer
      to the physical layer of the OSI model, which is not commonly so
      represented in either communications or security literature.)

      The text of the book is excessively padded with useless verbiage and
      irrelevant material. The actual content pertinent to the security of
      wireless LANs is barely enough to fill a decent magazine article.
      Overall, the book is poorly structured, limited in detail, and bloated
      with meaningless or repetitious content.

      copyright, Robert M. Slade, 2003 BKBSWNW8.RVW 20030208

      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      Find book info victoria.tc.ca/techrev/ or sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade/
      Upcoming (ISC)^2 CISSP CBK review seminars (+1-888-333-4458):
      March 31, 2003 Indianapolis, IN
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