Hack Proofing Your Wireless Network

By Joseph Moran

August 02, 2002

This book won't exactly make you hack proof, but it certainly can help readers harden wireless networks against possible problems from the outside.

Author: Christian Barnes, Tony Bautts, Donald Lloyd, Eric Quellet, Jeffery Bosluns, David M. Zendzian, Neal O'Farrell (technical editor)
Publisher: Syngress Media
Price: $49.95
Pages: 512
ISBN: 1928994598

Hack Proofing Your Wireless Network is a 500-page tome co-authored by a half-dozen people, most of whom are employed in technical positions at Lucent. Notwithstanding Lucent's significant corporate troubles over the past several years, there is no question that behind those hallowed walls are numerous advanced network technologies, as well as people qualified to discuss (or write about them).

The title of the book is somewhat hyperbolic, since it's highly debatable whether a network, particularly a wireless one, can truly be made "hack-proof." Perhaps a more apt title might be "Securing (or Hardening) Your Wireless Network", since the book certainly does address these issues.

The book is well organized, and is divided into nine chapters that deal with such topics as designing a wireless network, common attacks and vulnerabilities, and monitoring, intrusion detection, and auditing. Also included is a chapter discussing how to circumvent security measures, because after all, to protect yourself from a hacker, you need to think like one. Finally, since securing a network is not all about technology, the book gives pointers on how to define security guidelines and policies, as well as how to gather data and create and present reports in a corporate environment.

Hack Proofing Your Wireless Network doesn't focus solely on 802.11x wireless LANs. Rather, it discusses the above issues in the context of many varieties of fixed and mobile wireless networks, including Cellular-based wireless and HomeRF.

Like many technical books, this one provides a summary (and a FAQ) at the end of every chapter, but a nice feature of Hack-Proofing Your Wireless Network is the Solutions Fast Track. This is nothing more than a bulleted list of the salient topics covered in the chapter, but it's very useful to help reinforce the material. It also comes in handy if you want to get the gist of the chapter without plodding through all the material. There is an appendix which repeats all the individual chapter Solutions Fast Tracks in case you want to go through them without jumping around. Consider it akin to built-in Cliffs Notes.

Still, the book's chapters are modular enough that you don't really need to read them serially, and can instead focus only on those chapters which are of particular interest to you.

The book was copyrighted in 2002, and despite its recent publication it's still possible for information to be out of date. For example, the book cites $125-$200 as a typical price for a wireless LAN network card -- most standard 802.11b PC Cards are now under $100. Fortunately, the authors usually refrain from discussing specific products (though, not surprisingly, there is some discussion of Lucent ORiNOCO and Cisco Aironet products) or pricing and instead focus on providing more practical information that doesn't age.

Given the subject matter, I wouldn't necessarily call Hack Proofing Your Wireless Network an easy read, but it's not a tough one either. It's a good mix of theoretical, conceptual, and practical hands-on information, and does a good job explaining some pretty esoteric topics.

If wireless network security interests you personally or professionally, you'll learn a lot by picking it up.



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