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NetWork Overhead, What It Is?

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Measuring the cost of communication between unencrypted data and WPA encrypted data transmissions


In today's most technically advanced world any wireless devices we usually buy from stores come with some type of preconfigured security functionality such as WEP, WPA or WPA2 personal and others. Impediments started when it came to configuring the encryption method for securing the data communication. Most of the end users in home environments are not familiar with the different advantages and disadvantages of different types of encryption systems. However, getting to know all about different encryption methods and their algorithms for data encryption is beyond the general thinking of end users' minds. Thus, this paper gives a general idea about the most used or best suited encryption methods for home users by describing the basics about different encryption methods and analyzing their performances. Also, provides the general idea what type of analysis (like as latency time, turn-around time, and bandwidth), devices and encryption method we need to consider when it comes to securing the data communication based on the experiments I had conducted in a libratory environment.


After the invention of the first wireless network ALOHA in 1970 the era of wireless data communication had been started; even though, wireless networking technology had been used by U.S military during the WW-II. Early in the 1990s, commercial networking vendors began to produce low speed wireless networking products most used 900 MHz frequency range (Coleman & Wescott, 2009). By the end of 2000, the handheld devices such as smart phones, PDAs, and low price laptops came on the market, and people loved. Its greater flexibility of mobility sharply changed the demand carve for wireless communication. Increasing demand for wireless communication devices heavily creates the great concern for data security and integrity because at the early stages of wireless communication, it wasn't secured as wired communication. In 1991 IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) started work on wireless communication system in order to set up some sort of security standard to make this growing communication field more secure and reliable for public use, and they came up with different types of security standards under the banner of IEEE 802.11 development project. Open System, WEP, WPA and WPA2 are a few examples that were developed by IEEE. The purpose of this paper is to make the general conception clearer and more understandable from the end users' perspectives by providing the theoretical and analytical performance analysis about the cost of clear or unencrypted and encrypted data communications.

This paper briefly describes the analytical performance and the effects of the WPA and WPA2 encryption specification on the throughput of wireless communication networks and compares the performances with non encrypted data transmissions. The complete paper is broken down in to five different sections along with couple of sub-sections. Section 2 describes the importance of measuring the cost of communication along with some basic networking measurement terms and mathematics. Section 3 describes the wireless security architectures along with different types of data confidentiality and integrity algorithms. Section 4 describes the experimental design along with experimental results and data analysis. Finally, Section 5 covers various limitations of this experiment with a summary about the complete paper along with added real facts and conclusions.


Bandwidth (Throughput) and latency (Delay) are the two important factors along with others that are used to measure the cost of data communication, analyze network performance, design new networks, and understand the Internet. A networking professional must understand the tremendous impact of bandwidth and delay on network performance and design. A naïve user of wireless devices should be familiar with the very basics about most common home wireless routers bandwidth such as 2.4 MHz and 54 MHz.

Bandwidth is defined as the amount of information that can flow through a network connection in a given period of time (Davie, 2011). For example, a network might have a bandwidth of 10Mbps, meaning that it is able to deliver 10 million bits every second. Information flows as a string of bits from computer to computer throughout the world. These bits represent massive amounts of information flowing back and forth across the globe in a seconds or less. The demand for bandwidth continues to grow. As soon as new network technologies and infrastructures are built to provide greater bandwidth, new applications are created to take advantage of the greater capacity. The delivery of rich media content such as streaming video and audio over a network requires tremendous amounts of bandwidth.

On the other hand, latency corresponds to how long it takes a message to travel from one end to other end of a network in the given period of time. If you think of a channel between a pair of processes as a hollow of pipe, where the latency corresponds to the length of pipe and the bandwidth gives the diameter of pipe, then the (delay x bandwidth) product gives the volume of the pipe - the maximum number of bits that could transmit through the pipe at any given time. It is important to know because it corresponds to how many bits the sender must transmit before the first bit arrives at the receiver.

In short, individual users and businesses can save a lot of money if they understand bandwidth, latency time, types of data, and application are going to be used in their network. A network user or designer needs to make the right decisions about the kinds of equipment and services they need by considering those things and doing the cost analysis of data communication.


The original 802.11 standard defined very little in terms of security. The authentication methods first outlined in 1997 basically provided an open door into the network infrastructure. The encryption method defined in the original 802.11 standard has long been cracked and is consider inadequate for the data privacy. In this section of paper, I will briefly describe the legacy authentication and encryption methods that were mostly developed for small businesses and home users along with the most advanced encryption method for the SOHO environment. Different types of wireless security encryption methods are summarized in table-1 on next page. The original 802.11 standard



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