Configuring The Wireless Access Point


Overview of Configuring the Wireless Access Point
The basic approach to wireless implementation, as with any basic networking, is to configure and test incrementally. Before implementing any wireless devices, verify the existing network and Internet access for the wired hosts. Start the WLAN implementation process with a single access point and a single client, without enabling wireless security. Verify that the wireless client has received a DHCP IP address and can ping the local wired default router and then browse to the external Internet. Finally, configure wireless security with WPA2. Use WEP only if the hardware does not support WPA.
Most access points have been designed to be functional right out of the box with the default settings. It is good practice to change initial, default configurations. Many access points can be configured through a GUI web interface.
With a plan for implementation in mind, wired network connectivity confirmed, and the access point installed, you will now configure it. The following example uses the Linksys WRT300N multifunction device. This device includes an access point.
The steps for configuring the Linksys WRT300N are as follows:
Ensure your PC is connected to the access point via a wired connection, and access the web utility with a web browser. To access the web-based utility of the access point, launch Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator, and enter the WRT300N default IP address, 192.168.1.1, in the address field. Press the Enter key.
A screen appears prompting you for your username and password. Leave the Username field blank. Enter admin in the Password field. These are the default settings for a Linksys WRT300N. If the device has already been configured, the username and password may have been changed. Click OK to continue.
For a basic network setup, use the following screens, as shown when you click the Setup, Management, and Wireless buttons in the figure:
Setup - Enter your basic network settings (IP address).
Management - Click the Administration tab and then select the Management screen. The default password is admin. To secure the access point, change the password from its default.
Wireless - Change the default SSID in the Basic Wireless Settings tab. Select the level of security in the Wireless Security tab and complete the options for the selected security mode.
Make the necessary changes through the utility. When you have finished making changes to a screen, click the Save Settings button, or click the Cancel Changes button to undo your changes. For information on a tab, click Help.
Configuring Basic Wireless Settings
The Basic Setup screen is the first screen you see when you access the web-based utility. Click the Wireless tab and then select the Basic Wireless Settings tab.
Basic Wireless Settings
Network Mode - If you have Wireless-N, Wireless-G, and 802.11b devices in your network, keep Mixed, the default setting. If you have Wireless-G and 802.11b devices, select BG-Mixed. If you have only Wireless-N devices, select Wireless-N Only. If you have only Wireless-G devices, select Wireless-G Only. If you have only Wireless-B devices, select Wireless-B Only. If you want to disable wireless networking, select Disable.
Network Name (SSID) - The SSID is the network name shared among all points in a wireless network. The SSID must be identical for all devices in the wireless network. It is case-sensitive and must not exceed 32 characters (use any of the characters on the keyboard). For added security, you should change the default SSID (linksys) to a unique name.
SSID Broadcast - When wireless clients survey the local area for wireless networks to associate with, they detect the SSID broadcast by the access point. To broadcast the SSID, keep Enabled, the default setting. If you do not want to broadcast the SSID, select Disabled. When you have finished making changes to this screen, click the Save Settings button, or click the Cancel Changes button to undo your changes. For more information, click Help.
Radio Band - For best performance in a network using Wireless-N, Wireless-G, and Wireless-B devices, keep the default Auto. For Wireless-N devices only, select Wide - 40MHz Channel. For Wireless-G and Wireless-B networking only, select Standard - 20MHz Channel.
Wide Channel - If you selected Wide - 40MHz Channel for the Radio Band setting, this setting is available for your primary Wireless-N channel. Select any channel from the drop-down menu.
Standard Channel - Select the channel for Wireless-N, Wireless-G, and Wireless-B networking. If you selected Wide - 40MHz Channel for the Radio Band setting, the standard channel is a secondary channel for Wireless-N.
Configuring Security
These settings configure the security of your wireless network. There are seven wireless security modes supported by the WTR300N, listed here in the order you see them in the GUI, from weakest to strongest, except for the last option, which is disabled:
WEP
PSK-Personal, or WPA-Personal in v0.93.9 firmware or older
PSK2-Personal, or WPA2-Personal in v0.93.9 firmware or older
PSK-Enterprise, or WPA-Enterprise in v0.93.9 firmware or older
PSK2-Enterprise, or WPA2-Enterprise in v0.93.9 firmware or older
RADIUS
Disabled
When you see "Personal" in a security mode, no AAA server is used. "Enterprise" in the security mode name means a AAA server and EAP authentication is used.
You have learned that WEP is a flawed security mode. PSK2, which is the same as WPA2 or IEEE 802.11i, is the preferred option for the best security. If WPA2 is the best, you may wonder why there are so many other options. The answer is that many wireless LANs are supporting old wireless devices. Because all client devices that associate to an access point must be running the same security mode that the access point is running, the access point has to be set to support the device running the weakest security mode. All wireless LAN devices manufactured after March 2006 must be able to support WPA2, or in the case of Linksys routers, PSK2, so in time, as devices are upgraded, you will be able to switch your network security mode over to PSK2.
The RADIUS option that is available for a Linksys wireless router allows you to use a RADIUS server in combination with WEP.
To configure security, do the following:
Security Mode - Select the mode you want to use: PSK-Personal, PSK2-Personal, PSK-Enterprise, PSK2-Enterprise, RADIUS, or WEP.
Mode Parameters - Each of the PSK and PSK2 modes have parameters that you can configure. If you select the PSK2-Enterprise security version, you must have a RADIUS server attached to your access point. If you have this configuration, you need to configure the access point to point to the RADIUS server. RADIUS Server IP Address - Enter the IP address of the RADIUS server. RADIUS Server Port - Enter the port number used by the RADIUS server. The default is 1812.
Encryption - Select the algorithm you want to use, AES or TKIP. (AES is a stronger encryption method than TKIP.)
Pre-shared Key - Enter the key shared by the router and your other network devices. It must have 8 to 63 characters. Key Renewal - Enter the key renewal period, which tells the router how often it should change encryption keys.
When you have finished making changes to this screen, click the Save Settings button, or click the Cancel Changes button to undo your changes.

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