Ad hoc mode (peer-to-peer workgroup), Authentication, wep, and wpa – NETGEAR ME103 User Manual

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Reference Manual for the ME103 802.11b ProSafe Wireless Access Point


Wireless Networking Basics

August 2003

Ad Hoc Mode (Peer-to-Peer Workgroup)

In an ad hoc network, computers are brought together as needed; thus, there is no structure or fixed
points to the network - each node can generally communicate with any other node. There is no
Access Point involved in this configuration. This mode enables you to quickly set up a small
wireless workgroup and allows workgroup members to exchange data or share printers as
supported by Microsoft networking in the various Windows operating systems. Some vendors also
refer to ad hoc networking as peer-to-peer group networking.

In this configuration, network packets are directly sent and received by the intended transmitting
and receiving stations. As long as the stations are within range of one another, this is the easiest
and least expensive way to set up a wireless network.

Network Name: Extended Service Set Identification (ESSID)

The Extended Service Set Identification (ESSID) is one of two types of Service Set Identification
(SSID). In an ad hoc wireless network with no access points, the Basic Service Set Identification
(BSSID) is used. In an infrastructure wireless network that includes an access point, the ESSID is
used, but may still be referred to as SSID.

An SSID is a thirty-two character (maximum) alphanumeric key identifying the name of the
wireless local area network. Some vendors refer to the SSID as network name. For the wireless
devices in a network to communicate with each other, all devices must be configured with the
same SSID.

Authentication, WEP, and WPA

The absence of a physical connection between nodes makes the wireless links vulnerable to
eavesdropping and information theft. To provide a certain level of security, the IEEE 802.11
standard has defined two types of authentication methods, Open System and Shared Key. With
Open System authentication, a wireless PC can join any network and receive any messages that are
not encrypted. With Shared Key authentication, only those PCs that possess the correct
authentication key can join the network. By default, IEEE 802.11 wireless devices operate in an
Open System network. Recently, Wi-Fi, the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance


) developed the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), a new strongly enhanced

Wi-Fi security. WPA will soon be incorporated into the IEEE 802.11 standard.