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UAM wireless Net

Information Technology has put at the users' disposal the possibility of getting connected to the eduroam wireless Net. UAM is part of the international initiative eduroam, which enables the wireless network users in the University to connect, without changing their configuration, to the wireless nets of the rest of the institutions that are members of eduroam

This wireless network is an additional infrastructure to the wired network. However, the wireless Net does not substitute the wired net should never be used in permanent workstations.

Aimed at

  • Administrative and Service Staff
  • Grant holders
  • Students
  • Teaching and Research Staff

Subject matter

Servicio de Red

Help and Support

  • Students: IT classrooms utid@uam.es
  • PDI (Faculty and Research Staff), PAS (Administrative and Service Staff) and grant holders: 91-497 4029 cau@uam.es

FAQs

Is it necessary to update to the latest version of SecureW2?

No. It is up to you.

If you had SecureW2 installed and you can connect to the wireless network without any problems, then you DO NOT need to update it.

The reasons for updating are the following:

1) Your system show errors during the installation of SecureW2, and you cannot install the application properly.  In this case, UPDATE  to the latest version of SecureW2 available on our website.

2) Your platform is based on 64 bits systems.  In this case, UPDATE.  The latest version of SecureW2 available in our website is  COMPATIBLE with these systems.

SecureW2 is a piece of software whose only purpose is to do a secure exchange of your username and password to validate them in the system. Therefore, and although as a general rule for any software, it is convenient to use the latest versions, in this case, the most recent versions of SecureW2 only fix compatibility problems with the operating systems. But if you can access the network, then you do not have any compatibility problems between SecureW2 and your operating system.

SecureW2 has no influence on the wireless network coverage. The degree of coverage depends only on the wireless network antennae and the quality of your wireless device.

If you still want to update SecureW2 to the latest version, it is advisable to first uninstall the current version.

Can I access the wireless network from my PDA? And from my mobile phone?

What you need to connect to the wireless network is a computer, mobile phone, PDA, pocketPC, etc., with the following features:

  • It must be WIFI compatible: 802.11b, 802.11g or 802.11a.
  • Compatible WPA-Enterprise and/or WPA2-Enterprise both in the operating system and in the wireless device.
  • There is a client 802.1X and EAP-TTLS for the operating system.

If your computer, mobile phone, PDA, pocketPC, etc, fails to present any of these features, it will not be able to connect.

There is support available for computers running Windows XP and Mac OS X, and documentation that will be used for everyone can be created, since these used standard software elements: operating system and Secure_W2 for Windows XP and operating system in Mac OS.

Information Technologies cannot provide support for PDAs and computers running Linux.

Windows 2000 has serious configuration and diversity problems that make its use unadvisable.

The most common operating system in PDAs, Windows Mobile, tends to show a HIGHLY erratic behaviour in wireless connections. In addition to this, the wifi hardware of these devices has a sensibility and reach much WORSE than the worst wifi device for computers. We hope that these problems will eventually be sorted as the hardware and software for these small computers improves. For the time being, and despite the PDAs manufaturer's claim that their equipment can access wireless networks, each manufacturer, and within each brand, each model, has different problems to connect, related to both hardware and software.

Important note: Bluetooth devices, and UMTS, GPRS or DECT mobiles, ARE NOT COMPATIBLE WIFI DEVICES: 802.11b, 802.11g or 802.11a

Why is it so difficult to access the University's wireless network?

The University's wireless network is not, and cannot be, a wireless network like the one anyone may have at home.

At the University, we provide a service for the community that must comply with the following conditions:

  • Every user connected is a member of the University community.

  • No user may be able to capture and decode another user's wireless signal.

  • Every user's connections are registered. This lets us verify any connection problems or misuse that the said user may have made of the data network.

  • To obtain access, any user may type their e-mail address/password with the security that nobody else will be intercepted.

  • Any user of the UAM wireless network may connect to the wireless network of other Eduroam institutions, and any user belonging to an Eduroam institution may connect to the UAM wireless network.

None of these conditions must be complied with by the private wireless network anyone may have at home. But for the wireless network of an institution such as UAM these are essential conditions.

Also, the incorporation of the UAM wireless network to the Eduroam initiative makes it mandatory for use to comply with these prerequisites.

Finally, however complicated the set up may be, once you have managed to satisfactorily configure the connection to the wireless network, you need not touch it again. All you will need to do every time you want to access it is type your e-mail address and password.

Why is it advised to disconnect from the network in such a "sudden" manner?

We advise disconnecting from the network by switching off, removing or disabling the wireless device.

If you are not going to use the wireless network anymore, it is not reasonable to keep the device on for the following reasons:

  • When a wireless device is working, even when there is not an authenticated connection, the said device is sending signals to sound which antennae are available and it also carries out pre-connection processes that keep the transmission medium busy. In other words, a wireless device that is "idle" may still be disturbing, however slightly, the rest of the connected users.

  • There are some wireless devices whose drivers have programming errors that would enable a malicious user to control the computer. Generally, the manufacturers correct this problem quite quickly by developing a new driver and, in any case, these vulnerabilities can only be "exploited" by users with extremely advanced computer knowledge.

  • The disconnection method advised is the one with the least steps involved, and the safest.

 Is there any danger in wireless networks?

The danger or the damage that any device may produce is directly proportional to the energy involved.

The wireless data network devices cannot emit, legally, more than 100 mW. A tenth of the emission of a GSM mobile phone.

In addition to this, the possible harm that energy may cause diminishes with the square of the distance. GSM mobiles are constantly carried far closer to the body.

A simple comparison:

  • wireless devices are only used occasionally, they need only one tenth of the power and are kept relatively far away from the body,

  • GSM mobiles are continuously on, they use ten times more power and are carried very close to the body.

Therefore, the use of the wireless network implies far less dangers than the use of GSM mobiles.

What is the most adequate use for the wireless network?

The wireless network, by its very nature, is subjected to many limitations. This is not the recommended network for permanent workstations.

  1. Coverage problems and interferences with other devices or inert objects can greatly reduce or nearly annul the network's performance. The transmission mediums are 2,4 and 5GHz RadioFrequency bands, which are also used by other devices. Therefore, due to its being a transmission medium of highly variable conditions, the interference can be received at any time, which makes the strength of the signal, the signal/noise relation and the transmission speed fluctuate as the environmental conditions change.

  2. The maximum nominal speed of wireless networks is 54 Mbs. This speed is shared between transmission and reception.
  3. The said maximum speed implies an actual transmission speed of 23 Mb or below. Which must also be distributed between transmission and reception.

  4. Both speeds diminish greatly when the AP (Access Point) where we connect to the network, is too far away.
  5. All the users connected to the same AP are sharing the access and the available transmission bandwidth.
  6. In a wireless workstation you cannot have a university telephone extension  (91 497 XX XX).

On the contrary, with the wired network, all the comments above become the comments below.

  1. There are no coverage or interference problems. A cable is a controlled medium, with a strong protection against interference and where the transmission parameters are constant.

  2. In the University, the maximum nominal speed for the wired networks is 100 Mbs for transmission and 100 Mbs for reception.

  3. The said maximum speed implies anactual transmission speed of 93 or 95 Mb. For transmission and for reception, separately. This will be true as long as the transference is done with another of the University's computers, with a 100Mb card. If the other computer is old (10Mb card) or is too full, then this computer will set the limit.

  4. The speed has no relation with the computer's distance to the centre of the network.
  5. The speed assigned to each computer is not shared with the other computers nearby.
  6. In a wired workstation you may have a telephone extension.

However, a huge, certain advantage of the wireless network is that it provides access to the data network from nearly anywhere in the buildings: tables in the hallways, stairs, reading rooms, meeting rooms, ceremony rooms, classrooms, etc., without need to request the activation of a wired workstation.

All this means that the wireless network is ideal mostly for occasional use. That is, it is for UAM members that need to be connected at a certain time, in an unusual place and only occasionally.

Permanent, non-mobile workstation users that need a telephone extension or who use computers that need constant connection at a certain minimum speed, should use the wired network.

In the same way that the radio and television have not made newspapers disappear, wireless networks will not make wired networks disappear either.

Is the wireless network unsafe?

If used according to our instructions, THE WIRELESS NETWORK IS SAFE ENOUGH.

Instructions: First. The safest way to get connected, as long as your wireless card allows it, is using the WPA2-Enterprise/AES encrypting mode. Please remember that if you go to another institution you will need to use the WPA-Enterprise/TKIP encrypting mode, which is the most currently used in the rest of the institutions associated to the  Eduroam initative.

These days, WPA-Enterprise/TKIP and WPA2-Enterprise/AES are, to all practical effects, sufficiently safe methods.

Second. A very important matter in terms of security, inside UAM, and in particular when connecting from other institutions, is to ensure the confidentiality of the username/password keys and that they are sent ONLY towards UAM for their verification. Hence the importance of installing the Secure_W2 client exactly as stated in the instructions.

The execution of the installation as indicated, using every file in the zip file, is key to ensuring that our username/password cannot be captured by another wireless computer that could be around.

Third. Never share your username/password with anyone. If you think your username/password may be compromised, change the password and send us a message to cau@uam.es giving as many details as possible. If you do not give us enough details, we may not be able to locate the problem or attack.

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