News Analysis

Bringing in a law against Wi-Fi

A suburb in New York State in the US has turned the heat on businesses and homes that could be a wireless security risk.

Politicians in upmarket Westchester County say any business or home office with an open wireless connection but no separate server to fend off Internet attacks would be violating the law.

A draft proposal would compel all "commercial businesses" with an open wireless access point to have a "network gateway server" fitted with a software or hardware firewall to block intrusions from outside the local network. The set-up would be necessary both for a coffee shop with the most basic of cash registers and for ‘home offices’ too.

At the moment, the proposed law is only in draft form, but could be enacted early next year. Even public Internet access is likely to be affected. Sites would have to post a sign warning that users are accessing a network secured with firewall protection, but the firewall may not guarantee the security of any personal information. Fines for non-compliance could be $500.

The drive for legislation came after representatives from the county's information technology department travelled around the main local town, White Plains, and detected 248 open wireless connections in less than half an hour, with half of them lacking necessary security features.

Now if only local government and IT departments here had the same clout.


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