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Security for Wireless Ad Hoc Networks

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Wireless networks, whether cellular networks or wireless local area networks (LANs), have rapidly become an indispensable part of our life. Evidence of this is the widespread usage of such networks in several areas such as office, home, universities, hot-spots such as airports and hotels etc. In addition, the widespread availability of miniature wireless devices such as PDAs, cellular phones, Pocket PCs, and small fixtures on buildings, sensors are one step towards making possible the vision of wireless ‘nirvana’ a reality. Wireless ‘nirvana’ is the state of seamless wireless operation where any wireless device would be able to connect to any other wireless device or network at any time, in any place while satisfying the requirements of the user of the device. But as is obvious, we are still a long way off from the goal of wireless nirvana.

Technology under development for wireless ad hoc networks is enabling our march toward this end goal; however the security concerns in wireless networking remains a serious impediment to widespread adoption. The underlying radio communication medium for wireless networks is a big vulnerability that can be exploited to launch several attacks against wireless networks. In addition, wireless ad hoc networks usually cannot depend on traditional infrastructure found in enterprise environments such as dependable power sources, high bandwidth, continuous connectivity, common network services, well-known membership, static configuration, system administration, and physical security. Without adequate security, enterprises will shy away from the use of wireless ad hoc networks, governmental agencies will ban the use of wireless ad hoc networks, defense organizations might be unable to guarantee the safety of their personnel in battlefield scenarios and users will be liable for actions that they never committed.
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