Wi-Fi Worries

By: Justin Williams
By: Justin Williams

As Madison continues its quest to become one of the first communities in the country to offer city-wide wireless Internet service, some could-be customers are concerned about their system security. One local expert suggests preparations to help keep you protected.

Michel Hogue says he can connect to concerns regarding his laptop computer's security. "I've sort of assumed that—that I wasn't at at great risk, but it's something I think about."

Sitting in Madison's Espresso Royale Caffe Sunday, the occasional wireless Internet user explains the city's plans to offer wireless service city-wide by early 2006 will provide perks, and potential problems.
"The idea sounds great, but on the other hand, there's a risk, I guess, and it's something to be aware of," Hogue continues.

"The only way to protect yourself from being hacked is making sure that your laptop is set-up to prevent the hackers as much as you possibly can," says Hideko Mills, of the UW's Campus Network Services.

Mills says the new wireless service, while convenient, could lead to cases similar to one in Florida, involving the unauthorized use of wireless Internet service. "There's also something called war-driving, where people will drive around in their vehicles, with their wireless laptops, and try to access various networks," she explains.

Along with customized, alpha-numeric passwords, Mills suggests wireless users also use a firewall system, and avoid broadcasting their SSID's.

She adds, new technology will offer additional services during the next few years. "It, therefore, becomes even more important to protect yourself while using wireless networks throughout, throughout Madison," she concludes.

Meanwhile, Madison Mayor, Dave Cieslewicz says the city's WiFi, or Wireless Fidelity, service should be available by the end of the year, adding the city remains in the midst of negotiations with the provider, AOL.

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