One of the features of Grantsdale is its integrated access point, which turns an ordinary PC into a gateway for other devices to connect to the network.
IT managers already fear those APs will turn into back doors for hackers to wander into an otherwise secured corporate network, analysts say.
If nothing else, the introduction of Grantsdale will focus much-needed attention on wireless security issues. In addition to the access points theyve installed themselves, IT managers have already begun to fight the spread of so-called "rogue" access points, such as a worker installing a cheap access point for his or her own convenience.
"War driving" mobile PCs have already been able to sniff out wireless communications at major retailers. The Grantsdale chip set is due in late June, sources have said; a complementary chip set for the enthusiast PC market, "Alderwood," also contains the wireless access point technology.
But the wireless configuration within Grantsdale will be set up in a way that enforces security provisions upon the user, said Howard High, a spokesman for Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp.
In addition, the PCs will be shipped with Microsofts Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) enabled, which includes an improved, software-based firewall.
"Basically, the access point within Grantsdale is autoconfigured at off," High said. "One has to go into the system and configure the system as an access point. If he chooses [to run the PC as] an access point, the Microsoft firewall will be automatically configured as default."
Configuring WEP or WPA security will require manual configuration like a standard wireless router, he said, adding, "I think that there is adequate security within the Grantsdale chip set."
The problem is that IT managers arent aware of the potential security risks, said Tim Scannell, president of Shoreline Research, a wireless consultancy in Quincy, Mass. "What I find in talking to these IT guys is that they go, I have a wired system, Im OK. But what they dont know is that they have a wireless back door built into it."