Wireless Security: An Oxymoron?
November 4, 2003
On November 4, 2003 the Internet Caucus Advisory Committee, in conjunction with the Internet Caucus and the Wireless Task Force, hosted "Wireless Security: An Oxymoron?" The Internet Caucus Advisory Committee Wireless Working group co-chair John Kamp (Wiley, Rein & Fielding) introduced Congressman Honda (D-CA) -- co-chair of the Wireless Task Force. Congressman Honda expressed concern that home users are not taking appropriate security precautions will using wireless Internet technologies. In reaction to this concern Congressman Honda discussed several tips that he feels are key for securing Wi-Fi networks. (For tips see release). Congressman Honda best expressed his feelings on this issue by concluding, "When you have an open-mind, anything can be accomplished."
The expert panel discussed many of the key points introduced by Congressman Honda in his opening address. William Arbaugh (University of Maryland) felt the problem with security is that for so many people it is an afterthought. Arbaugh made the analogy that security is like insurance, everyone wants it but no one wants to pay for it. Arbaugh predicted that wireless Internet technologies might not take-off until, like anti-virus software, consumers, government and corporations actually experience the negative impact of not having security measures in place.
Edward Roback (National Institute of Standards and Technology) discussed the need for educating wireless Internet users (government, corporate or consumer) about the necessary security measures that need to be taken before implementing wireless technologies. When asked specifically about security in terms of government use of the technology, Roback stated that most wireless technologies are plenty secure for government. NIST has been working to assure that they are properly installed with the appropriate level of security precautions taken.
Jeffery Campbell (Cisco Systems, Inc.) qualified this debate by saying that while security is one of the biggest issues facing deployment of the wireless Internet it is no different from the need to secure your landline Internet connection. Campbell noted that the advantages of wireless mobility will far out weigh security concerns and it will not be too large a bump in the road.
The legal perspective of this debate was examined by Jim Halpert (Piper Rudnick). Halpert admitted at this point the "law is very unsettled." Halpert outlined several different scenarios in which the end user or the service provider may be liable for their unsecure wireless network connection. One of the instances that Halpert outlined included being liable for negligence.
The Internet Caucus Advisory Committee holds these balanced panels as educational forums to help inform Congressional Member and staff about the current Internet debates in the 108th Congress. This event was the second event of 2003 hosted in conjunction with the Wireless Task Force. More information on the Wireless Spectrum event.
For more detail regarding the event please view the complete video.