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Chicomm Blog

Wireless Networking Security Terminology

Posted by Lisa MacGillivray on Monday, November 9, 2015

Today, it doesn’t matter if you have a private WiFi network for your business, or, if you host a public network on a school campus or in a shopping center - your network needs to be secure. Hackers are always on the lookout for subpar security in order to quickly get in and get out with the information they came for.

So how can you best keep your network safe and secure? First, we always recommend partnering with an expert solutions provider - this ensures optimal security throughout all of your communications.

Second, it is a great idea for you to become familiar with the most popular wireless networking security terminology so that if an issue comes up, you are well-versed enough to discuss or understand the problem. Here are 10 of the most common wireless networking terms:

802.11, 802.11a, 802.11b, & 802.11g

These are four industry standards for wireless LANs (WLAN) that range in speed from 1M to 54M bit/sec. This set of standards if most often found in homes, offices, and even schools.

Access Point (AP)

An Access Point is simply a station or location that transmits / receives data. It allows for connection between users within a network, and can also serve as the point of connection between the wireless LAN and a fixed wire network. APs are also referred to as “transceivers.”

Evil Twin

Believe it or not, this is a common term used to describe a homemade wireless access point. These faux APs essentially pretend to be real APs, and attempt to gather personal, corporate, or critical information without you even guessing it. Unfortunately, it is fairly simple for a hacker to create an “evil twin,” as all it takes is a laptop, wireless card, specific software, and being in the area of a real WiFi access point.

Fixed Wireless

Fixed wireless means exactly what you would think it does: devices or systems that are in fixed locations. Think of your home or office network as a fixed network, and your smartphone or tablet as a mobile wireless network. Just because devices on a fixed wireless network are more stationary doesn’t mean that they are always more secure.

Hot Spot

A Hot Spot is a very common use for an access point (AP) often used by students and business travelers in public spaces. When there is no free public WiFi readily available (like commuting via train), users can use a device like a smartphone or tablet to create a mobile AP, or, Hot Spot. These connections can be fairly insecure, though, and many hackers create “evil twins” to act as Hot Spots, so it is best to only connect to your own.

Hot Zone

This is an area in which there are multiple Hot Spots being used as the same time, almost creating a WiFi effect.

MAC Address

No, this is not the mailing address for Apple. The MAC address is actually the unique identifier of an IP-enabled device. Basically, a network administrator is able to set up a preapproved list of MAC addresses that can use the network. If an IP-enabled device that does not have an approved MAC tries to connect to the network, it won’t work. This is a great way to keep your network secure in a small office or home.


The SSID (service set identifier) is a sequence of characters that names your wireless network. This name is broadcasted and all devices within range will be able to see it. SSIDs are there to let users know that they found the right network. For example, if you are at a coffee shop called Bob’s Coffee, you would feel pretty sure about yourself if you found the network called “Bob’s Coffee WiFi.” Keep in mind that this is simply the name for your network, and even it does require a password, that doesn’t make it secure.


WAP, or, Wireless Application Protocol) is a specification that essentially standardizes the way we all access the Internet. From laptops to smartphones, and video game consoles to Smart TVs, WAP is the protocol we all use everyday.


Wireless Local Area Network - this is something that was mentioned above. A WLAN is a local area network that users can access through a wireless connection.

If you are are looking to improve your wireless network’s security, understanding basic terminology is a good first step to take. If you’d like more information on wireless networks, you can contact Chicago Communications today.

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