Date of Award

2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Thomas O'Neill

Second Advisor

Craig Valli

Abstract

Many organisations and individuals installing wireless local area networks (WLANs), which are based on the IEEE 802.11 b standard, have little understanding of the security issues that surround this technology.

This study was initiated to determine how WLAN security issues affect organisations in Perth, Western Australia. The scope of the study was restricted to 802.llb WLANs operating in infrastructure mode, where all traffic is transmitted by wireless access points (APs). This study was conducted in two phases. The general aims of the first phase were to determine the number of detectable WLANs in the Perth Central Business District (CBD) and subsequently, the percentage of them that have enabled Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). Additionally, phase 1 was able to show how many WLANs were still using the manufacturer's default settings and how the network devices may be grouped according to manufacturer.

The general aims of the second phase were to find out if the IT managers of various Perth organisations were aware of the security issues related to WLANs and to find out the degree to which the security tools and processes have been implemented. These aims were also achieved and in addition, anecdotal information was collected and analysed. The results of this study indicate that in the Perth CBD, the majority of those persons responsible for the implementation and management of wireless networks are aware of the problems and have taken steps to secure their networks.

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