Is wireless security pointless?

    Date21 Jul 2005
    Posted ByBrittany Day
    What with country singer Lee Greenwood's recorded rendition of patriot songs like "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah" and "God Bless America" playing over the sound system at 8:30 a.m. in the Commerce Department auditorium in Washington, D.C., one could have been excused for thinking the July 20 conference: "Pharmers and Spimmers, Hackers and Bluejackers: Combating Wireless Security Threats" was taking place during a national emergency. Far from it.

    True, speakers decried the lack of concern in corporate America over security threats to wireless local area networks (WLANs) and enterprise systems. On the other hand, the threat level doesn't seem to be all that high yet. Mark Henderson, senior analyst, U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which operates out of the Department of Homeland Security, said U.S. CERT had not been receiving much in the way of reports on wireless network attacks. "That may be because companies are not reporting them to us, although they are mandated to do that," he added.

    In fact, John Pescatore, vice president for internet security for Gartner Research, argued in the opening keynote that the security industry had "overhyped" the security dangers to wireline systems, and was doing the same with regard to wireless. He noted the past attacks like the Slammer and Blaster worms were successful because computer users had failed to patch security breaches which they previously known about. That kind of mistake along with another typical error -- misconfiguring a corporate network -- are the kinds of easy preventive steps that should make intrusions easy to defend.

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