Wireless Security: The Main Point

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2008-12-02 Print this article Print

There, all clear now? Me neither.

The real point of Bellovin's blog, which is clearly underscored by the definitions above, is that wireless products throw a vat of alphabet soup at users and it's no surprise if they make bad decisions in configuration. It's so easy to find a completely wide-open wireless network; is this because people just don't care or because securing them is too hard? Some of both, I suppose.

The terms WPA Personal and WPA Enterprise are attempts to move beyond this problem, at least at the point of purchase. Home users would just look for WPA Personal-compliant products, and enterprises would look for WPA Enterprise, and be assured of a fairly high level of interoperability. But it's no guarantee of plug-and-play secure networks.

There's no easy way out of this problem. Unfortunately, vendors have a strong incentive to retain support for old standards, as they are widely implemented, and this means that configuration screens will be loaded up with lots of the alphabet soup above. Education is not usually a great solution for a security problem, but that's all we're left with in wireless security configuration. Wish us luck.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.

For insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer's blog Cheap Hack.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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