Security And Cost

By Melanie Hollands  |  Posted 2003-04-09 Print this article Print

Security is currently considered the major disadvantage and risk with wireless networks, with the cost usually ranking a close second -- all the more so in companies that dont have easily isolated facilities. On balance, primary decision makers are less concerned with security-related issues than those who made purchasing recommendations. Not surprisingly, primary decision makers are more concerned with cost. In general, those who only made recommendations are more interested in the technologies themselves. Security issues could also explain why many companies are planning to maintain duplicate wired and wireless networks in the long-term. In this way, wired networks can be maintained for access to certain sensitive applications and data. This also takes into account that most companies would undertake a "phased in" installation of wireless networks, which would likely function as an adjunct to fixed networks before any ultimate replacement.
Relatively few companies are currently planning for wireless LAN to replace a fixed network. Not surprisingly, such companies tend to have more mobile employees, higher needs for real-time/remote access to data, or dispersed facilities (such as medical facilities, educational organizations, distribution facilities, sales organizations, etc.).
For companies that already have a tightly run network with appropriate security in place, adoption would be easier and there would be more equipment to reuse. Best case scenario: if a corporate network (like many) had little security-related data access from different parts of the network, they might need new security hardware and software, and possibly router upgrades as well. Another positive scenario: companies might already have a managed network allowing them to control access to different pieces of information or applications depending on where in the network the request originated. If thats the case, then blocking from the wireless portions would be relatively easy. There is a high degree of reuse of fixed LANs. In less favorable scenarios, hardware and software capabilities would need to be added at various levels. Companies need to examine security systems, determine what is and isnt available on the wireless network and consider how to block sensitive data or applications. Depending on the fixed network equipment currently in place, this might involve installing more networking hardware or software.


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