Performance Evaluation of Technologies for Securing 802.11 Enterprise Wireless Networks

K. Jamshaid and L. You (USA)


Wireless 802.11a/b/g networks, security, WEP, WPA, IPSec, performance impact.


With the new security protocols for IEEE 802.11-based wireless LANs (WLANs) currently under development, organizations with a large installed wireless base are forced to choose an interim security framework from a variety of disparate security solutions. Prominent among these is Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), a "secure" link level security protocol, and network layer solutions like establishing IPSec tunnels into Virtual Private Network (VPN) gateways deployed at the edge of the wired networks.

Network security is always a tradeoff between the system performance characteristics and ease of use versus the level of protection desired in a network. In this paper we analyze the impact of the data link and network layer security protocols on the functional and performance aspects of enterprise wireless networks. We also document the results of our tests which provide a comparative baseline between important system parameters like effect on data throughput, data latency, and other requirements. We extrapolate our results so that they can be used for formulating the full spectrum of security policy guidelines required for effectively managing different enterprise wireless needs.

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