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Access Point

Definition: An access point is a networking hardware device that acts as a communication hub in a wireless local area network (WLAN), allowing wireless devices to connect to a wired network using Wi-Fi, or related standards.

Access points are central to network infrastructure, particularly when it comes to creating a wireless network environment. They enable Wi-Fi devices to connect to a network without the need for cables, facilitating mobility and flexibility. Beyond just providing a wireless connection, access points can offer additional functionalities such as network management, security features like WPA2 encryption, and the ability to handle a large number of devices and traffic loads efficiently.

The configuration and management of access points are critical. Poorly secured access points can be exploited by attackers for various malicious activities such as eavesdropping on network traffic, conducting man-in-the-middle attacks, or gaining unauthorised access to a network.

To enhance security, access points should be set up with strong encryption methods, secure management interfaces, updated firmware, and isolated networks (VLANs) for guest access. Security measures, such as hiding the Service Set Identifier (SSID), implementing network access controls, and using strong passwords, are also important factors in safeguarding wireless networks from unauthorised access and potential breaches.

Key Characteristics:

  • Hardware device facilitating wireless connection to a network
  • Broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal to enable device connectivity
  • Can offer layered security features for network protection
  • Upon misconfiguration or lack of security can become a vulnerable point of attack


  • Real-World Example: In a corporate office, a series of access points are installed throughout the facility to provide employees with Wi-Fi connectivity to the internal network, enabling them to work wirelessly from laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Hypothetical Scenario: A coffee shop sets up an access point to offer free Wi-Fi to customers. To protect the business’s internal network, the access point is configured to segment the guest traffic onto a separate VLAN with its own SSID and encryption settings.

Related Terms:

  • WPA2 Encryption: A security protocol commonly used by access points to secure wireless networks.
  • SSID (Service Set Identifier): A unique ID that consists of 32 characters and is used to name wireless networks.
  • VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network): A network strategy used to segment a physical network into different broadcast domains, which can be applied within access points to enhance security.
  • Man-in-the-Middle Attack: An attack that can occur due to insecure access point configurations, where an attacker secretly intercepts and possibly alters the communication between two parties.

Learn better by watching a video? Here is a YouTube video explaining the concept, by the fantastic Linus from Techquickie.

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