NOTE: The terms wireless router and wireless access point are often used interchangeably.
A large-scale WLAN, such as a corporate or public WLAN, typically uses wireless access points
that can accommodate a large number of devices and accessories and can separate critical
A home or small office WLAN typically uses a wireless router, which allows several wireless and
wired devices to share an Internet connection, a printer, and files without requiring additional pieces
of hardware or software.
To use the WLAN device in your computer, you must connect to a WLAN infrastructure (provided through
a service provider or a public or corporate network).
Setting up a WLAN
To set up a WLAN and connect to the Internet, you need the following equipment:
A broadband modem (either DSL or cable) (1) and high-speed Internet service purchased from an
Internet service provider (ISP)
A wireless router (purchased separately) (2)
Computer equipped with a wireless device (3)
The illustration below shows an example of a wireless network installation that is connected to the
As your network grows, additional wireless and wired devices can be connected to the network to access
For help in setting up your WLAN, refer to the information provided by your router manufacturer or your
Protecting your WLAN
It is essential to understand that because the WLAN standard was designed with only limited security
capabilities—basically to foil casual eavesdropping rather than more powerful forms of attack—WLANs
are vulnerable to well-known and well-documented security weaknesses.
WLANs in public areas, or “hotspots,” like coffee shops and airports may not provide any security. New
technologies are being developed by wireless manufacturers and hotspot service providers that make
the public environment more secure and anonymous. If you are concerned about the security of your
computer in a hotspot, limit your network activities to noncritical e-mail and basic Internet surfing.
When you set up a WLAN or access an existing WLAN, always enable security features to protect your
network from unauthorized access. The common security levels are Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)-
Personal and Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). Because wireless radio signals travel outside the
network, other WLAN devices can pick up unprotected signals and either connect to your network
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