The Performance of the IEEE 802.11i Security Specification on Wireless LANs
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Wireless networks are popular due to the mobility afforded by having connectivity without wires. Wireless networks are inherently vulnerable and the IEEE 802.11i security standard was established to address security. Previous research has evaluated the effects of WEP encryption and its variants on wireless network performance. However no previous work has evaluated the effects of the 802.11i specification (implemented as WPA and WPA2) on performance. The aim of this research is to discover the effects of the new WPA2 specification on wireless network throughput, latency, error rate and interaction with multiple clients. It also makes comparisons with the existing security methods, WPA and WEP. Synthetic and real network applications were used to generate network traffic. Various security levels were defined. These ranged from No Security to WPA2, and also included different authentication methods (Pre-shared key and 802.1x EAP-TLS certificate authentication). Performance was measured against these security levels. The results show that while there were statistically significant differences between the security levels, they are small enough to be realistically ignored. This research shows it is possible to establish a secure wireless network, without any noticeable compromise in performance. Using hardware with hardware accelerated security features, there is no reason to use anything less than the WPA2 security specification.