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Wireless Glossary

802.1x   The 802.1X standard is designed to enhance the security of wired and wireless local area networks that follow the IEEE standard. 802.1X provides authentication to AirPennNet, which involves communications between a supplicant (laptop or handheld), authenticator (wireless access point), and authentication server allowing a user to be authenticated by a PennNet trusted central authority using their PennKey and password.

Access Point (AP)   A communication hub on a network located within the wireless connectivity area that relays information between the wired network and a user's wireless device.

DHCP   Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is used to assign dynamic (temporary) IP addresses to individual devices on a network. With dynamic addressing, a device can be assigned a different IP address each time it connects to the network. This strategy simplifies network administration allowing new devices to access to the network without first having to manually assign an IP address.

IP Address   An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique numeric identifier for a computer or device on a network differentiating it from all other devices. IP Addresses are used to communicate between computers and other devices over the Internet.

LAN   A local-area network (LAN) is a computer network that extends over a small area.

MAC Address   A unique identifier assigned to a computing device on a network. Some wireless installations on Penn's campus use the MAC address of your wireless card to identify you as an authorized network user.


An SSID, or Service Set Identifier, is the name used by a wireless card to identify itself to a specific wireless network. This information may also be referred to as the "Network Name."


Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a method of encrypting data using a public key. Both Internet Explorer and Netscape support SSL, and many Web sites use this encryption method to transfer confidential user information, such as credit card numbers. By convention, URLs that require an SSL connection start with https:// instead of http://.


In an authentication system, a supplicant refers to the machine attempting to gain access to the network.


TCP/IP is the underlying communication technology behind the Internet and communications between computers on a network.


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