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Commentary: Wireless Security Getting Easier
Securing wireless networks is a tedious task, but "paint shields" and improved usability may soon ease the process.
Wireless-N Nfiniti router
Buffalo Technology, manufacturer of the Wireless-N Nfiniti router (pictured), is developing software that will make Wi-Fi security easier to manage.
April 27, 2007 by Toni Kistner

Do a quick search for wireless networks. If you’re in a high density area, you’ll probably find close to a dozen, half of which still won’t be secure. Confusion and apathy top the list of reasons why. Both were recently addressed.

Confusion: Configuring WEP and WPA is often difficult, and sometimes downright confounding. Install routines and software interfaces are all over the map. But recently, the Wi-Fi Alliance expanded its mission beyond promoting interoperability among 802.11 devices to release a certification program to promote their ease of setup and security configuration.

The Wi-Fi Protected Setup system sets up the network and WPA or WPA2 security with the push of a button. Buffalo Technology developed the software, which will eventually make its way into all Wi-Fi certified gear. The Alliance has posted a white paper at www.wi-fi.org.

Confusion: Taking a very different approach is EM-SEC Technologies, which has developed a “paint” that shields wireless devices and other electronic equipment from outside access. Initially developed for the government and military, the company announced last month that it has successfully tested its water-based polymer system, and is now targeting corporate and private companies.

In time, liquid security is bound to find its way into the residential sector, either via enterprising paint manufacturers, high-end builders, or technology installers. For more information, visit EM-SEC Technologies.

Apathy: Maybe you don’t care whether the neighbors are riding your network connection, or that strangers are pulling up to the curb. But they better not try it in England. A man there was recently fined £500 after a jury found him guilty of using a neighborhood wireless broadband connection without permission. The case, brought under the Communications Act 2003, was the first “war driving” prosecution in the UK. Read more from The Register.

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Toni Kistner - Contributing Writer
Toni Kistner is a technology writer living in Cambridge, Mass. Her main focus is networking and wireless technology.

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