Thursday, May 9, 2013

Network+ WAP Performance Based Questions

Network+ WAP Performance Based Questions

If you’re planning on taking the Network+ exam you can expect to see some Network+ WAP performance based questions. These questions expect you to know how to configure a wireless access point (WAP). Even if you've done it once or twice, it might not be fresh in your mind so it's good to review the topics. 

Networks commonly use wireless access points (WAPs) and configuring security with them is an important skill to have. CompTIA stresses this on both the Network+ and Security+ exams. You should be able to configure basics such as:
  • Change the SSID
  • Enable/disable SSID broadcast
  • Enable MAC address filtering
  • Configure security such as WPA and WPA2
  • Configure WPA/WPA2 Enterprise
Ideally, you should get your hands on a WAP or a wireless router used in many homes and small offices home offices (SOHOs). They are easily accessible and aren't expensive. The experience configuring it is valuable for on the job and the exam.

The following sections show how to configure a Cisco M20 wireless router. All devices aren't exactly the same, but you'll find similar settings if you click around.
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Accessing the Administration Page

Wireless access points have web pages you can use to configure settings. You can access the administration pages by entering the IP address of the access point into the web browser. The IP address of most access points is either or

After entering the IP address, you're prompted to enter the name and password for the administrator account. These also have defaults such as "admin" for the administrator account and "admin" for the password but it is highly recommended to change the defaults.

Network+ WAP Performance Based Questions - Change the SSID

The service set identifier (SSID) is the name of the network.  It is a case sensitive string of up 32 characters. Devices come with a default SSID and it's recommended to change the SSID from the default as a best practice.

The following figure shows the basic setting for SSID. On this WAP, you have to select the Wireless main menu and the Basic Wireless Settings submenu.  You then enter the desired network name for in the Network Name (SSID) text box. In the figure, I used the SSID of MyHomeWAP but any name with 32 characters can be used.
  Configure SSID for Network+ WAP Performance Based Questions

Network+ WAP Performance Based Questions - Enable/Disable SSID Broadcast

You can hide a wireless network from casual users by disabling SSID broadcast and a performance based question might require you to select one of these settings. The following figure shows how this is done on a sample access point.
  Disable SSID for Network+ WAP Performance Based Questions 
 It's important to realize that even if you disable SSID broadcast, attackers can still discover the SSID with a wireless sniffer. In other words, disabling SSID broadcast doesn't provide any real security. You can read more about in the  Disable SSID Broadcast or Not? blog.

Enable MAC Address Filtering

Another configuration you might need to implement for Security+ WAP performance based questions is media access control (MAC) address filtering. The MAC address is assigned to the network interface card (NIC) when it is manufactured and you can use it to identify specific devices. When used within a MAC address filter, you can restrict access to the wireless network to specific devices based on their MAC address.

As an example, the following figure shows a MAC address filter configured on a wireless access point.  You can see that it is enabled and configured to "Permit PCs listed below to access the wireless network." The wireless client list includes five MAC addresses. Devices with these MAC addresses will be allowed access to the network, but other devices will be blocked.

MAC Filter for Security+ WAP Performance Based Questions

This setting isn't restricted to only PCs. Any wireless device has a MAC address including tablet devices and smartphones.

You can also configure a MAC address filter to block specific devices. For example, if your neighbor is using your access point to access the Internet, you can block his system using his MAC address. You would select the first setting "Prevent PCs listed below from accessing the wireless network" and enter the MAC address of his system.

Network+ WAP Performance Based Questions -

Configure Security Such as WPA and WPA2

You also need to know how to configure basic security setting such as Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2 (WPA2). You can typically select the appropriate setting from a drop down box and then enter the appropriate passphrase. The settings entered on the access point must be used on all devices that connect to the access point.

The following figure shows these settings.

  WPA 2 for Network+ WAP Performance Based Questions

Configure WPA/WPA2 Enterprise

Both WPA and WPA2 operate in either Personal or Enterprise modes. Most home and small business networks use Personal mode using a passphrase or password.

Larger enterprises add additional security to WAPs with WPA Enterprise or WPA2 Enterprise.  Enterprise mode provides additional security by adding an authentication server and requiring each user to authenticate through this server. Authentication requires all users to prove their identities and a common way authentication is accomplished is with a username and password. A user claims an identity with a username and proves the identity with a password.

Enterprise mode requires an 802.1x server typically configured as a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server, which is configured separately from the access point. The RADIUS server has access to the user’s authentication credentials and can verify when a user has entered authentication information correctly.

The following figure shows the configuration for an access point using WPA2 Enterprise. After selecting WPA2 Enterprise from the drop down box, the  selections change. You then need to enter the IP address of the RADIUS server and the shared secret configured on the RADIUS server. The default port for RADIUS is 1812 and you only need to change this if the RADIUS server is using a non-default port.

RADIUS for Network+ WAP Performance Based Questions

Other Network+ Resources

Kindle Shorts

I'm writing chapters on the Network+ exam and publishing them as Kindle Shorts. So far, I have published two:

Practice Test Questions for your Mobile Device

Instead of the Kindle book, you can purchase these questions for your mobile device. I've partnered with Learnzapp and they have published several apps for a variety of different platforms.

Network+ WAP Performance Based Questions Summary

You can expect to see some Network+ WAP performance based questions on the Network+ exam. These questions expect you to know how to configure a wireless access point (WAP) including the SSID, MAC address filtering, and security settings such as WPA2 Personal or WPA2 Enterprise.