Advice on wireless AP vs. wireless router

Tod Hansmann plug.org at todandlorna.com
Wed Sep 7 08:41:41 MDT 2011


On 9/7/2011 8:27 AM, Jeff Patterson wrote:
> Hey everybody,
>
> I work in a very small company that builds custom automated manufacturing
> machinery in the valley. We would like to be able to access the company
> network and the internet while debugging the machines away from the wired
> network connection at our desk. My boss would like to install a couple of
> AP's so that we can connect to the network while at the machines.
>
> Personally, I don't see any different security concerns using our existing
> wireless router (that currently has the wireless turned off) but he seems to
> think that an AP is a safer solution. Are there any opinions about the
> mater?
>
> I have looked at the specs of the AP he is interested in and it looks to me
> to be a router. Am I missing something or is there a reason an AP is a
> better solution?
Actually, no, having a wireless AP is literally the same as just hanging 
a loose ethernet wire out there that you will always get a DHCP address 
from (don't talk to me about MAC filtering, or I'll talk to you about 
MAC spoofing).

That said, if you need to cover that area, multiple nodes will likely be 
needed, and APs are easier to work with.  If you have a router 
currently, you can put both APs into their own LAN separate from the 
regular LAN on your current router (it would just be a different 
interface on the router, though I don't know if your router has multiple 
interfaces or not).  Then you can just firewall the two from each other 
and allow only the access to specific places on specific ports on the 
LAN from the WLAN.

As to the AP he's looking at, if it has multiple interfaces and NAT 
settings, it's a router.  Get APs.  The actual AP is less of a concern 
compared to mounting, antennae, and standard (b/g or n?) that you will 
be using.  Get some good antennae for coverage.  If this is going to be 
an important service, invest in some APs that handle multiple clients 
better.

Good luck!

-Tod Hansmann


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