California to mandate wireless security
 
As indicated in today’s San Jose Mercury News, the California legislature has passed, and sent to the governor, a bill that would require manufacturers of WiFi equipment (including computer makers like Apple) to instruct customers as to how to secure their wireless networks. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law, and it will take effect in January.
 
Details of the “warning” method are left to the manufacturer, but some sort of sticker or longer explanation is expected. The goal of the warning seems to be mainly to prevent “piggybackers” from accessing unsecured wireless networks for deeds ranging from simply stealing bandwidth to breaking into users’ home networks and computers to using those networks to unleash Internet-wide hacks and viruses. The warning might also help to mitigate the effect of current and future wireless exploits.
 
Some might consider California’s bill as “excessive government interference,” but in this case it seems more like good consumer protection. By helping to spread the word about a serious problem, California can once again take the lead where the federal government hasn’t.
 
The Mercury News also includes an excellent sidebar list of ways to secure your wireless network, stating that half of all consumer WiFi devices “lack protection” (whatever that means).
 
 
Wednesday, August 30, 2006