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Wi-Fi as an Industrial Network Option

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FILED IN:  Wireless
Most discussions of wireless networks in the manufacturing industries focus on 802.15 - the standard used for wireless communication by WirelessHART and ISA100. Discussion of Wi-Fi in industry is limited, however.

To find out why this is the case and to see if the outlook for Wi-Fi in industry could possibly change, we spoke with Mike Fahrion, Director of Product Management at B&B Electronics, a provider of industrial wireless devices, to get an opinion on the topic. In this Editorial Deep Dive video, Mike shares his thoughts on why Wi-Fi is becoming an increasingly viable option for industry because of its architecture, interoperability, bandwidth and marketshare advantage.

FILED IN: Wireless


I mean, OK WIFI might have a place for certain industrial application, but some things said are just plain wrong. First of all, you can run WIFI in meshed modes, either via special low level modes currently in specification, or by higher level protocolls like B.A.T.M.A.N. advanced which tunnels Ethernet over Ethernet. The bigger issue I have is that security critical applications on WIFI _never_ rely on the WIFI security. They always have some propper public key encryption. And for a good reason too. WIFI encryption standards cannot prevent stations from intercepting each other since that would break much of Ethernet. So imagine you have an installation with n sensors. Eventually one breaks, you replace it, you throw out the old one. Someone takes that discarded sensor, extracts its keys and has full access to your network. Or if you use some mobile phone or laptop, some piece of malware can do the same just as easily. And of course from that point on, an attacker could do virtually anything. e.g. ARP spoofing to bend connections. Such things can easily be prevented by using a propperly configured VPN over the wireless network. Of course the bigger issue lies withing people who will just plug in stuff into that network. They will plug in their office network into the production network so they'll have Internet on their iwhatevers during the coffee breaks. If you are planning to use IT in such applications, please first learn about it. And please don't start with the worst systems and technologies available. And please don't just assume that just because "everyone is doing it" it's secure.

Actually, Christian is incorrect. Tthe use of WPA-Enterprise class security means that clients cannot see other's trafficand do not use common keys.

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