The Evolution of IEEE Wireless Standards Discussion
This week we are asked to opine on the evolution of IEEE wireless standards and issues that come with securing wireless/mobile devices and or data. Time just seems to fly by. I remember my first desktop computer; it was a Heathkit HA-8. I got it as a graduation gift shortly after I received my BA back in 1978. At the time, I was just starting to take a few grad courses in computer science and home computers were very rare. By the turn of the century, laptops were commonplace for business and personal use. In the 1990s the IEE started to standardize wireless technologies. In 1997, the IEEE ratified the original 802.11 standardthe 802.11 technology term simply refers to Wi-Fi (Extreme Marketing Team, 2019). Fast forward to today and we have smartphones and a plethora of smart devices so wireless standards had to step up. The 802.11 standard has been continually evolving with faster speeds and further coverage. 802.11ac is the fantastic new wireless technology that brings us into the age of Gigabit Wi-Fi (Extreme Marketing Team, 2019). For the 802.11 standard, each amendment was given a letter designation so we have 802.11 a/b/e/g/i/n/ac/ax amendments. In the context of security, we have the 802.11i-2004 amendment which improves on wireless authentication, encryption, key management and detailed security. The original security specification, Wired Equivalent Privacy or WEP was a link-level security option which proved to have security vulnerabilities. The WEP shared secret key turned out to be not so secret and was easily cracked. Once an attacker has the key, the door is open and the wireless network is defenseless. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) was introduced to mitigate some of the WEP insecurities. It had 3 components: TKIP-Temporal Key Integrity Protocol, 802.1x-Port based network access control and MIC-Message Integrity Code. WPA evolved and became RSN (Robust Security Network) or WPA2 in the 802.11i amendment. WEP and WPA use the RC4 stream cipher but the 802.11i amendment uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) block cipher. Alternative security measures to the 802.11i standard could include IPSec protocols for security at the network layer or VPNs. IPsec is a major security mechanism in the security toolbox of the communications security engineer (Jacobs, 2016).
I think most would agree that Wi-Fi is a big offender when it comes to abbreviations and its numerous naming structures. In 2018, the Wi-Fi Alliance took steps to make Wi-Fi standards names easier to identify and understand (Actiontec, 2020). We now have Wi-Fi 4 which is the 802.11n amendment; Wi-Fi 5 is the new designation for 802.11ac and Wi-Fi 6 is the 802.11ax amendment. An IEEE task force is already at work on the next 802.11 amendment; Wi-Fi 7 (802.11 be) is eagerly awaited by 2024.
Actiontec. (2020). The evolution of Wi-Fi standards: A look at 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax. ActionTec. Retrieved from https://www.actiontec.com/wifihelp/evolution-wi-fi-standards-look-802-11abgnac/
Extreme Marketing Team. (2019, October 10). A history of wireless standards: Wi-Fi back to basics. Extreme Blog. Retrieved from https://www.extremenetworks.com/extreme-networks-blog/a-history-of-wireless-standards-wi-fi-back-to-basics/
Wong, L.C. (2004, October 21). Wireless Network Security Standards & Mechanisms. SANS Institute Reading Room. Retrieved from https://www.sans.org/reading-room/whitepapers/wireless/paper/1530
Jacobs, S. (2016). Engineering Information Security, The Application of Systems Engineering Concepts to Achieve Information Assurance(2nd edition). IEEE Press, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Need 250 word response and 1 cited reference
Good evening. I hope that you are all well! This week, we are looking at the evolution of IEEE standards and common issues associated with wireless/mobile devices. Before starting my degree, I must admit that I did not know how who the IEEE was or how much power they wield.
Starting from the beginning, the IEEE is best thought of not as a governmental or political body. Instead, they should be thought of as the premier trade organization for electronics and engineers. They help to write the rules of the game. The IEEE came into existence in 1884 because they wanted to “support professionals in their nascent field and aid them in their efforts to apply innovation for the betterment of humanity” (IEEE, 2020). Membership into the IEEE has been associated with computer scientists, medical doctors, physicists, and allied professionals. However, at its core, it has always been about engineering and creating a broad set of guidelines for technology to evolve within.
The IEEE would continue to expand and grow for the next contrary until, in 1985, the 802.3-2012-IEEE Standard for Ethernet was first published by the organization (Zimmerman, 2016). This would come to prove a turning point for the organization because these standards would help form the basis for modern-day internet protocols. In fact, from 1985 through the present, IEEE 802.3 would receive many different amendments as the nature of ethernet and wireless technologies grew and changed.
Eventually, the base version of wireless protocols was established as part of the IEEE 802 series in 1997. These standards formed the basis for the Wi-Fi brand, which has become synonymous with wireless technologies. The base version of wireless protocols were included in the Ethernet protocols because IEEE wanted them to work seamlessly together. Some specific criticism of this arrangement lies in the fact that the IEEE has created a monopoly on wireless technologies. Most devices utilize these standards, and the IEEE must approve these. This has created stagnation within the standards. For example, wireless protocols have focused on stability rather than security. In my opinion, you can draw a direct line between this focus on the current state of cybersecurity. Many organizations are having to play catchup to help enforce their cybersecurity within there networks.
Some common ways to help enforce security within one’s network to make the software fully updated within the network. Including IDS/IDP systems within the network help to both monitor and segment the system. Each protocol layer has different security measures that can be done to help secure the overall system. For example, in protocol layer 1, link-bulk encryption is used by defense organizations to encrypt all signals. Another example is in protocol layer 3, where IPsec is used to help provide peer-entity encryption. The point of these differing methods is that each layer can have there own security mechanisms to help get around the IEEE (Jacobs, 2016, pp 517-571).
Anyway, class, I look forward to reading your responses. As always, if you need anything, feel free to let me know. Have a great week!
IEEE. (2020). History of IEEE. Retrieved September 14, 2020, from https://www.ieee.org/about/ieee-history.html
Jacobs, S. (2016). Chapter 10-11 In Engineering information security: The application of systems engineering concepts to achieve information assurance (Second ed., pp. 517-632). Hobokin, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Zimmerman, G. A. (2016, August 16). Evolution of Ethernet Standards in IEEE 802.3 Working Group. Retrieved September 14, 2020, from https://www.standardsuniversity.org/e-magazine/aug…