Wireless network designs aren’t always as straightforward as they might seem. In this video, you’ll learn about suppressing SSIDs, wireless topology options, and a summary of how we use wireless networks today.
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When you’re on a mobile device and you’re browsing around to find a wireless network, you’ll see the network names pop up in a list. This is the service set identifier. If you’ve not configured a specific SSID on your device, you may see the defaults. So you may see a Linksys, or Default, or Netgear appear. But, generally, we’re setting this SSID to be more descriptive. We want people to understand what this access point is providing. If you’re part of a store, or part of an office, it might say Guest Wireless, or it might have the name of the business as part of the SSID.
Some organizations prefer to disable this SSID broadcast. If you turn off the broadcast, the name never appears in that list and it becomes a lot more difficult for people to find that particular wireless network. This is not preventing anyone from joining that network, because if they did know the name of the SSID, they could easily connect to this particular wireless network. This is something we laughingly call security through obscurity. By making something more obscure doesn’t necessarily make it more secure. And whenever we talk about security through obscurity, what we’re really saying is, this is not security at all.
They are also a number of ways that your wireless device can connect to other devices over a wireless network. You don’t have to use an access point. That’s probably one of the most common ways to do it, but you could connect directly between your wireless device and another one using something called ad hoc networking. In this case, there’s no pre-existing infrastructure, there’s no access points on the network, there’s no SSIDs, we’re simply connecting from one device to another using the wireless network. And those devices can communicate and send information between each other without any extra equipment needed.
If you’re communicating through an access point, which is probably the most common way to connect to a wireless network, then you’re using something called infrastructure mode. All of the devices on the network are connecting to the access point, and they’re able to communicate to each other by going through that access point. There’s not a direct connection between devices. All of the communication passes through that central access point when you’re using infrastructure mode.
And a less common form of wireless communication is one called a mesh communication. This is one where you might have many wireless devices and are all able to talk to each other without needing any other kind of infrastructure device. They’re effectively forming their own mesh, or their own cloud. This not only provides them with a way to communicate between each other, but it also provides a self-healing function. If you lose some of those devices, the other devices are still communicating and provide connectivity from one device to another.
You will find 802.11 wireless functionality in almost any device these days. Our mobile phones certainly have a cellular or mobile connectivity, but you also have the ability to turn on 802.11. Almost all of our laptops have 802.11 wireless built into them these days, but if you have an older laptop, or it doesn’t have a wireless adapter, you could always use an external adapter and plug into a USB interface.
Our tablets are using 802.11 almost exclusively to provide networking. And our gaming devices, even these days, with our Xboxes and PlayStations, are all using wireless to be able to communicate across those gaming networks. We even have specialized media devices that connect to our televisions, and they’re pulling in information and streaming media from many different providers and putting it right into the HDMI ports on our television.