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December 01, 2003
C|Net News Speaks Out Against Open Access
C|Net News has published an unsigned commentary lamenting the lack of encryption defaults on WiFi gear (A fate worse than lack of access). According to the opinon piece, the Wi-Fi Alliance does not request WiFi manufacturers to turn on Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) as a default.
Of course, consumers can easily enable WEP if they so desire (it has been part of the basic instructions for every WAP I've set up). But C|Net is concerned that consumers aren't using WEP because, "Consumers may disregard the risk [of not using WEP] for two reasons: They don't value the resources or data on their network, and WEP is not completely effective against break-ins." Well, number two is certainly a consideration. If I was worried about security, I wouldn't use WEP, I would stick with a physical LAN. However, there is a third option ... not that people don't value their resources, but rather that they do find them so valuable that they would want to share them with others. I value my data and resources, but I also am willing to share those resources through means that require little effort on my part.
C|Net has an answer for those who like to share: bad people might take advantage:
What consumers may not be considering is that open access leaves their networks vulnerable to hijackers who may want to launch an anonymous virus from their broadband connection or download child pornography.
If the virus is anonymous, what does it matter where it is launched from, as long as it can be launched? There is plenty of child porn to be had without going through the trouble of using WAPs. But to the extent that WAPs are useful for downloading child porn, WEP will be a mere inconvenience. In other words, you can make access impossible for the vast majority of good citizens in order to inconvenience technically sophisticated hackers and similar bad actors.
I'm not sure why C|Net is against open access, but the arguments leave much to be desired.
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