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Is the Open Wireless Router project applicable in the enterprise?

The Open Wireless Movement's Open Wireless Router project can reportedly improve privacy and security, but is it enterprise safe? Network security expert Kevin Beaver explains.

The Open Wireless Movement just released the Open Wireless Router project, which can reportedly "Improve your own privacy and security while enhancing that of others." How does this project work and does it have potential applications in the enterprise?

Being a good Samaritan and opening up your wireless network in the name of freedom and privacy is no doubt a good deed. But if you've worked in IT any length of time, you've seen what good deeds can result in -- headaches, breaches and other cans of worms you'll wish you had not opened.

The Open Wireless Router project aims to open up wireless networks so that we can have ubiquitous Internet access while, at the same time, enhancing the privacy and security of its users and data through these shared connections. But if your enterprise is interested in the Open Wireless Router project and how it might benefit business, here are some critical questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What policies, SLAs and contracts will you be violating when you do open up support for this technology? Is your lawyer willing to get on board and defend such usage?
  • Are you prepared to support yet another wireless router platform?
  • Who is going to be in charge of keeping tabs on this environment?

I see the Open Wireless Router project being a better fit for consumers who wish to be part of a movement. No doubt, consumers are your end users -- your mobile workforce. Consumer-based wireless routers are also pervasive in many enterprises. Still, outside of that, I cannot think of a good use case for this in the enterprise.

If you do go down this path, do it because it's the right thing to do for your business -- to make your network more secure. Make sure you vet the risks, get the right people on board and stay vigilant by continually monitoring the security of the systems -- or at least their connectivity into your environment.

You will also need to educate your employees on what to do and not do when connecting to these open wireless access points (SSID of OpenWireless.org). If you jump into this blindly -- or ignore it altogether -- by opening up your network, not knowing what you don't know could be asking for more trouble than you're able to handle.

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This was last published in May 2015

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