Wireless security involves measures to provide cyber security and information assurance to users, devices, and networks that use radio frequency (RF) or infrared (IR) physical layers for communication. These measures include wireless network protection, intrusion detection, and analysis of and response to threats. Wireless security technologies typically operate at Layer 1 (physical) and/or Layer 2 (data link) of the OSI model but are tightly integrated with higher-layer security mechanisms to contribute to a holistic security solution.
Security architectures for wired networks rely at least to some degree on physical security to deny would-be intruders access to local networks and data. Within the walls of many organizations, wired network traffic is unencrypted and nodes may not be individually firewalled because the physical security provided by door locks, cable shielding, guards, fences, and the like is viewed as sufficient. However, RF and IR signals pass through and across many of the physical boundaries of wired networks, rendering physical security ineffective.
Wireless networks enable network topologies not even considered in the wired networking world. For example, mobile ad hoc networks have no network boundary or gateway in the traditional sense. Instead, each node can access and be accessed by many or all other network nodes, and also from outside networks.