Friday, 5 January 2007

Don't believe the wireless myths

You've heard it all before:- wireless LANs are insecure and unnecessarily to expensive and difficult to support. Well don't believe them for an instant. Cisco along with the people at Forrester Research and Intel have come along to dispel all your wireless fears. They recently realised a report listing the five biggest wireless myths, putting an end to many a wireless fear.

The myths are:

  • Wireless networks provide limited benefits when compared with wired networks;
  • Wireless networks are not secure;
  • Wireless networks are complex to deploy and support;
  • Wireless networks are immature;
  • Wireless provides no business value beyond mobile data.

Wireless networks provide limited benefits when compared with wired networks

"The benefits of wireless networking go beyond simply providing data transfer to mobile devices. Productivity has long been singled out by wireless advocates as being the primary reason for adopting wireless technology. Several studies quantify productivity gains from wireless networks."

Along with productivity gains, enterprises can take advantage of a variety of new mobility services- these include voice and presence technologies that not only allow for faster and simpler communication but also help locate users on the network.

Wireless networks are not secure

"New security standards like IEEE 802.11i and the Wi-Fi Alliance Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) have emerged to match the robust protection previously found on wired networks."

"Even a “no Wi-Fi” policy is no guarantee of security against these threats without a comprehensive RF monitoring solution."

The paper provides a five-step approach for mitigating risks to the network from wireless threats:

1. Create a WLAN security policy.
2. Secure the WLAN.
3. Secure the wired (Ethernet) network against wireless threats.
4. Defend the organization from external threats.
5. Enlist employees in safeguarding the network."

Wireless networks are complex to deploy and support

"One of biggest changes in deploying wireless networks has been in client management. The mobility of wireless clients presents IT departments with increased complexity of managing clients to maintain the integrity and support of the enterprise network. Intel® Centrino® mobile technology overcomes these barriers."

Wireless networks are immature

"Thanks to Cisco and Intel collaboration, mature IEEE wireless networking standards, and third-party vendor support, wireless networks deliver a mature networking solution and provide a platform for enhanced value-added services to extract additional return from wireless networks."

As an example of a successful migration to wireless the paper uses Jones Farm, an Intel campus nestled in Oregon. They took to heart the notion that wireless networks are no longer cumbersome, troublesome, insecure beasts of the past. They made it so the entire campus is wireless-ready and the majority of tasks can be performed wirelessly.

Wireless provides no business value beyond mobile data

The report discusses several benefits achieved from wireless networks:

Location Services

  • Asset tracking
  • Presence

Voice Services

  • Cost avoidance
  • Universal telephony

Guest Access Services

  • Decreased support costs
  • Partner services

Security Services

  • Physical security
  • Rogue network containment

Basically what they are saying is that wireless is good so give it a try.