Government Challenge

By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2004-05-18 Print this article Print

The challenge will be even greater within the government and military sectors, where classified information could potentially be exposed to intruders. The Department of Defenses Directive 8100.2, published April 14, states, "Introduction of wireless technologies in DoD ISs, including those creating an external interface to non-DoD systems (or allowing use of DoD wireless devices on non-DoD wireless networks) can have a significant adverse effect on the security posture of the IS and requires security review and documentation."
"Portable electronic devices," such as wireless-equipped notebooks, that are directly connected to a DoD-wired network shall not be permitted to operate wirelessly while directly connected, the directive states.
Another worry is that the new Grantsdale chip set will be secured by an unproven Microsoft software-based firewall first appearing in Windows XP SP2. Microsoft currently includes a basic firewall with Windows XP, but customers generally secure their networks behind a hardware firewall, or, in small businesses, equip their PCs with third-party solutions. As IT budgets rise, managers are going to have to look harder at third-party vendors that arent on the default "approved list" and can meet the new security requirements, Scannell said. Products from Newbury Networks Inc. and its competitors attempt to lock down corporate wireless networks by sniffing out "rogue" access points and establishing barriers beyond which Wi-Fi access is not permitted. Matthew Gray, founder and chief technology officer at Boston-based Newbury, said Grantsdale PCs have the potential to become "a substantial security breach." "Any wired network solution, any wired network switch … can be potentially completely circumvented by a misconfigured desktop," he said. At last weeks NetWorld+Interop show in Las Vegas, Newbury charted 386 distinct access points broadcasting open wireless networks that could be considered rogues, the company said in a statement Tuesday. But wireless back doors in the hands of users arent entirely new. Wirelessly connected workers first started migrating away from corporate cubicles with the spread of Intels Centrino chip sets, which combined a wireless client with the companys low-power Banias processor and chipset. A Centrino notebook can be manually configured to serve as a gateway to a wireless network by bridging the wired and wireless network though Internet Connection Sharing in Windows XP, or by forming an ad hoc network between two PCs. But doing so requires the permission of the other PC, Scannell said. For insights on security coverage around the Web, check out Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog. PC vendors may implement additional levels of security to lock down corporate networks further. But for now, theyre remaining mum on the subject. Dell Inc., for example, declined to confirm that it would support Grantsdale at all. "For anybody to assume that Dell will support any products from Intel would be speculation, and we cant comment on that," said Jeremy Bolen, a spokesman in charge of Dells Optiplex line. "You can assume, however, that we will be supporting industry-standard security solutions." Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at for the latest security news, reviews and analysis.

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