There is lots of good information all around so it becomes very important that we start in the right direction. If you end up digging in the wrong direction you might be gaining knowledge but you will be getting away from the real 802.11 standard. In today’s market there are lots of bad Wifi deployments due to lack of knowledge and wrong notions, my favorite one being “adding more APs always increases throughput”. Well the fact is only if you can have them on different channels or are able to reuse them without overlapping.
I started reading on enterprise WiFi in 2011 when I was asked by my Manager to prepare for CCNA Wireless as we were deploying Cisco 500 Controller with AP 521 which only had 2.4 GHz Radio’s. I got my CCNA Wireless, got the single controller / 10 APs up and running but then did not get a chance to revisit it. I came back again in 2012 during my project on WiFi security for my Masters in Networking.
At the time the best free resource I found on the topic were the free videos posted on Security tube on WiFi Security ,but soon I realized WiFi is much more complicated then I thought it is so now I was looking for a place that would teach me the basics. Then I came across the CWNP website, there are no better resources when it comes to learning the basics.
Bought my first CWNP book for CWNA and started reading it, in interest of time I had to do selective reading as I had a dead line on my project and I had a full time job with my Part time Masters. Somehow managed to finish the project on time, cracking Wep and basic pen testing was done with Backtrack 5 R2 (now Kali Linux ), great tool for Pen testing.
Here is a picture of my setup in my basement where I was hacking my own network.
My Prof liked my project but I knew that I had to go back to the basics again and clear some doubts that I had created during my Project.
In 2013 I got Hired in a Wireless Engineers group which would deploy WLAN for various customers, I was much exited but was very overwhelmed by the information coming my way. First question my manager asked me was do you know Aruba Networks, my answer was “Never heard of them”
Most of the surveys I did were just paint it green as I did not know any better. Vendor material was great but it would not touch basics and at lot of places it would say if you have CWNA knowledge you will get better results out of this training.
So I decided to go back to the basics and stated with my CWNA-105, I finished that book and then took a class at Global Knowledge and my instructor was Ben Miller. He helped to clear a lot of doubts that I had during my self study. Soon after the class I did lot of practice questions that came with the book and also bought extra practice questions available at CWNA.
Another great resource is Question of the Day from CWNP I got into such a great habit that till date first thing in the morning I do when I log onto my PC is to check the QOTD and see if I can answer it. If I answer it correctly it gives me that confidence that I know my 802.11 and If I don’t answer it correctly I read the explanation below and now I know something new.
This was a Brief run down about my wireless journey, now here are few things you need to do if you are new to WiFi.
- Get a CWNA Book and start reading it.
- Test yourself with QOTD
- Subscribe to Podcasts by Nigel Bowden WiFi for Beginners and Rowell Dionicio Cleartosend. Listen to it when you are driving or don’t feel like reading. There are some other podcasts as well.
- Visit this great website by Keith Parsons – He has a bunch of Whitepapers, Podcasts, Videos from all the WLPC conferences, and a list of blogs that one should read (personal favorite is by Andew Von Nagy)
- Get a Twitter account if you don’t have one and start following the Vendors, CWNP and other wireless engineers / guru’s to see what’s going on in the industry.
My recommendation is before you jump into Vendor certifications get your foundation set with 802.11 basics as this will make you design and deploy good Wlans.
This was my first ever blog post so hopefully was helpful.