http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2002/01/29/wifi.htm By Michelle Kessler USA TODAY 01/28/2002 SAN FRANCISCO - Wi-Fi, a wireless technology touted by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as one of the greatest tech innovations in five years, is being banned from some high-tech institutions because of security concerns. This month, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California banned all wireless networks, including the most prevalent, Wi-Fi, from its grounds due to "security vulnerabilities," directors said in a newsletter. Other entities that handle sensitive data are implementing or considering similar bans. And airlines are coming under fire for using Wi-Fi in curbside baggage check-in systems. The fear: Computer hackers can intercept data traveling through the air if Wi-Fi networks aren't properly safeguarded. Wi-Fi defenders say Wi-Fi is secure when properly installed. The problem: Only about 10% of users install even basic safeguards, security experts say. While tech companies rush to boost Wi-Fi security, the concerns may slow the uptake of Wi-Fi by businesses and institutions worried about sensitive data. So far: The Livermore lab, which conducts nuclear-weapons research among other things, has banned all wireless networks from its campus. Its sister lab, the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico, does not allow them in high-security areas and is considering a campus ban. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston canceled a Wi-Fi pilot program last fall because executives worried that patient data might be intercepted. The center plans to test a more secure version of Wi-Fi this summer. Aeronautical Radio, which provides communications services to airlines and the government, is encouraging customers to move away from Wi-Fi-type systems because of the security risk. The company hopes to replace a wireless bag-matching network it operates for San Francisco International Airport with a safer system. "Using (Wi-Fi) for mission-critical operations is extremely dangerous," says company Vice President Joe Weiss. The U.S. Department of Transportation in December started assessing security risks of new technologies, including Wi-Fi, in airports. The concern: Hackers could get into wireless networks of airlines and alter flight, baggage and passenger data. Airlines, including American and Southwest, say they have safeguarded their systems. They won't elaborate, citing security concerns. Still, use of Wi-Fi is likely to spread, experts say, especially in home networks. That's because it's an ideal way to wirelessly link users to the Internet and to send data between consumer electronics and personal computers. People just need to remember that "there's a responsibility that comes with using it," says C. Brian Grimm, spokesman for the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance trade group. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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