[ISN] Security-conscious groups ban Wi-Fi

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Jan 30 2002 - 01:47:32 PST

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "[ISN] Windows 2000 security draft released"

    By Michelle Kessler
    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.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Jan 30 2002 - 05:21:50 PST