Uninformed: Informative Information for the Uninformed

Vol 5» 2006.Sep


The adoption of wireless local area networks (WLANs) has exploded in recent years due in large part to standardization by the IEEE and certified WiFi interoperability; see the compilation Wireless LAN Edition[1]. Vendors ship products that they claim conform to the IEEE 802.11 standard and in many ways, they do, as the WiFi industry consortium can confirm. Yet products can also vary widely in their implementations of this standard. An implementation usually comprises a software component (the device driver), the hardware (radio chipset), and firmware for that chipset. The combination of the three uniquely identifies the implementation. Invariably, an implementation exhibits some behavior that can be observed or measured and is unique. This behavior is called its 802.11 fingerprint. Fingerprints enable us to identify 802.11 implementations.