My colleague told me that IEEE 802.11ax would better support the internet of things, or IoT. Will it improve IoT...
security? Will IEEE 802.11ax prevent issues like the recent Netgear router vulnerabilities?
Most 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers serve one device at a time on the overcrowded Wi-Fi networks in high-density areas. Users don't share devices; they take turns broadcasting and listening on each device.
Those users may be happy to hear the IEEE 802.11ax version enables multiple users to share devices at the same time. The standard specifies larger capacity, better speed range and longer battery life.
The average throughput for each user is four times larger, and subcarrier spacing is narrower. IEEE 802.11ax works with both the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands. The 2.4 GHz band is more crowded, but offers longer range connections than the 5 GHz band. Also, a feature called Target Wake Time enables devices to save battery power by scheduling when and how frequently they will wake up to receive and send data.
IEEE 802.11ax enables IoT applications to operate on very low power at 20 MHz. Smaller blocks of about 2 MHz resource units are transmitted. The access point can talk to IoT clients as low as 375 Kbps, while using higher bandwidth channels for network access clients.
While IEEE 802.11ax might improve the security of IoT by having multiple users with proper authentications access multiple devices, it has drawbacks. The standard doesn't contain or refer to authentication or encryption protocols.
Qualcomm Inc. offers two 802.11ax chips -- one for wireless routers and enterprise access points, and the other for laptops, smartphones and tablets that can access IoT. Both the router and the receiving device need to be multiuser and multiple input, multiple output compatible. Obviously, Qualcomm doesn't guarantee that its chips will have no vulnerabilities, but the chip maker has addressed and fixed bugs in older chips.
Netgear welcomes IEEE 802.11ax as the new standard for IoT-connected routers in the home and small businesses. However, with certain routers, the standard cannot prevent vulnerabilities like those Netgear experienced.
Ask the expert:
Want to ask Judith Myerson a question about security? Submit your question now via email. (All questions are anonymous.)
Check out these three steps to mitigate router security issues
Learn about the FCC's compliance regulations for Wi-Fi router security
Discover how Cisco uses internet routers to secure VPN traffic
Dig Deeper on IoT security issues
Related Q&A from Judith Myerson
The Signal Desktop application was found to be making decryption keys available in plaintext. Learn how the SQLite database and plaintext passwords ... Continue Reading
An exploit code for Dirty COW was accidentally shipped by Cisco with product software. Learn how this code ended up in a software release and what ... Continue Reading
Cisco's Webex Meetings platform had to be re-patched after researchers found the first one was failing. Discover what went wrong with the first patch... Continue Reading
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.