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I'm just curious about the state of affairs of Wifi networks. In a Wifi network that is NOT Internet-connected and using the latest -- WPA? WEP? -- encryption stuff, how hard is it for a non-technical hacker (just somebody with currently available tools) to disrupt the network?

I'm asking because I'm developing an iPad product and I'm forced to use Wifi for the connection with the server (otherwise I'd use USB and be done with it). I'm worried only about traffic being disrupted or altered.

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Are you looking for information on accidental interruptions or malicious ones? Your data are probably secure enough if you're using WPA2; anybody trying to hack WPA2 is more than just your casual script kiddie. However, there are plenty of jamming devices out there which could cause severe interference, either by accident or on purpose. Anything sending radio waves around near a WiFi connection, especially anything in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz range (depending on what band you're using), can potentially cause a disruption. This includes microwaves, cordless phones, cell phones, cell phone jammers, other wireless routers on a nearby channel, and a myriad of other things.

So in short, if your application requires the user to connect with a secure (WPA or WPA2) connection (I'm not sure if an iPad app can do that or not, but at least you can recommend it), then your data should be secure. As far as disruption, you will never be able to fully control that, since there are far too many environmental factors. I would advise developing your app in such a way that if the network connection drops unexpectedly, or if you start losing packets, it can recover gracefully, either by resending data, informing the user, or whatever else may be appropriate for your situation.

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Thanks @nhinkle. That really helps... I hadn't (though should have) thought about the radio jamming possibility. This is all theoretical for now, but I would like the app to be able to have a wired connection to the host. Ugh.... – Dan Rosenstark Sep 14 '10 at 3:47
I'm not an Apple/iOS platform developer, so I don't know any of the specifics, but it seems like there are products out there which use the charging/USB connector to do more than just charge and sync with the computer - I've seen credit card readers and other devices attached through that port. It would take some hardware development, but is that a potentially viable path to look into? – nhinkle Sep 14 '10 at 3:58
yes, it's a possibility. I started there before coming here… – Dan Rosenstark Sep 14 '10 at 4:05

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