Because the nature of wireless networking is such that packets are just sent out into the air, it is very easy to have those packets intercepted. What's disturbing about this for some is that user names and passwords, as well as other sensitive information, are just as likely to be intercepted.
One of the technologies to combat this is 802.1x authentication. 802.1x authentication can help ensure that wireless communication between client and access point is encrypted, and it also prevents unauthorized users from accessing the network.
Encrypted dataa.k.a. cipher texthas been rearranged into a secret code, and it can only be decoded by the holder of the decryption key. Encryption keys and encrypted messages have been around for several thousand years, ranging from simple letter substitution schemes, such as those employed by "secret decoder rings," to the German's Enigma machine in WWII, which was cracked once the Allies figured out the key, to incredibly complex mathematical functions that are used to encrypt a single file and then are discarded. That way, even if someone were to spend the hours or days or years necessary to crack the key for one message, it wouldn't do them any good on the next message.
At any rate, here's how you set up encryption on the wireless client:
Note that if you select either of these 802.1x authentication methods, you will have additional configuration to do, such as specifying the type of certificate used. You can do this configuration by choosing Properties.
To disable IEEE 802.1x authentication for this connection, clear the "Network access control using IEEE 802.1X" check box.
When connecting to a wireless network, the client does so using the highest level of security that the network is capable of. Therefore, enabling 802.1x authentication for one connection still allows connections to other, non-secure networks where this authentication is not in place. In other words, leaving 802.1x authentication enabled for one network will not adversely affect your ability to use the computer in a wide variety of wireless networks.
That said, a full discussion of the wireless encryption protocols is beyond the scope of this book.