From the viewpoint of RF, noise is undesirable interference affecting a desired signal that alters its carrier properties and that is propagated by manmade and/or natural sources. In simple terms, it means that an RF signal is disrupted to an extent that a WNIC can't decode the information embedded in the signal.
Noise can be intentional, such as ECM jamming during a military engagement, or it can be unintentional, such as a microwave interfering with an AP's signal. Whatever the case, the effect is still the same—the signal is degraded. Higher-layer protocols attempt to encode data into the RF signal using various algorithms such as Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) or Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) so that the receiving station can decode the information from the received signal at higher levels of signal degradation, thus making the wireless communication exchange more resistant to the effects of noise and signal attenuation. However, such encoding schema only go so far and invariably a point comes where no amount of encoding will defeat the impact of noise and attenuation on a given signal. An attacker who launches a denial-of-service (DoS) attack using RF to generate noise against a wireless target will disrupt that wireless target in such a way that higher-layer protocols cannot correct for because the attacker is targeting the transmission or carrier medium (e.g., generating raw harmonic noise in the 2.4 GHz spectrum), not the higher-layer protocol (e.g., 802.11 deauthentication/disassociation frame flood).
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