Notes on the Book

We describe many techniques for attacking Wi-Fi systems and even provide step-by-step instructions on how to use attack tools. Some people are uncomfortable with this approach, but we reject the argument that it assists people who have bad intent. Those people will find out what they need to know one way or another. It is the honest people who will be left in the dark unless these details are exposed. Unless you are familiar with your enemies' weapons, you cannot set up a proper defense.

Also, there is an emotive debate about the word "hacker." This word was originally coined to describe honest, hardworking, and very inventive programmers. It is still used with this meaning by some in the industry, who prefer the word "cracker" to describe security attackers. The general public, however, uses the word "hacker" to mean a person who attacks computers with malicious intent. We use the word "hacker" in this sense, and we apologize for any irritation this causes.

Finally, to avoid confusion, we'd like to clear up the relationships among the terms Wi-Fi, wireless LAN, and IEEE 802.11.

  • Wireless LAN is a general term used for short-range, high-speed radio networks. Wi-Fi is one kind of wireless LAN.

  • IEEE 802.11 is the formal technical standard that defines how Wi-Fi systems operate.

  • Wi-Fi is the industry standard for products based on IEEE 802.11 as defined by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Wi-Fi products are tested for compatibility among different manufacturers.

Broadly speaking, IEEE 802.11 and Wi-Fi refer to the same thing, but some parts of the IEEE 802.11 standard are not implemented by Wi-Fi systems and, conversely, some extensions are added. If you have any doubts, substitute "Wi-Fi" every time you see "wireless LAN" or "IEEE 802.11."

    Part II: The Design of Wi-Fi Security