Employees 'forcing Wi-Fi rollout'

Companies are finding themselves forced to roll out Wi-Fi to solve problems caused by frustrated employees who are doing it themselves, anecdotal evidence suggests

Employees are creating security holes in their corporate networks by setting up their own WiFi hot spots under their desks, senior executives warned on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Wireless LAN conference in London, Anurag Lal, vice-president of business development at iPass, said that Wi-FI has become a double-edged sword for many companies. Lal gave the example of a large Boston-based financial institution who resisted iPass's initial approach. "They resisted us for a long time," said Lal, "saying 'we don't believe in Wi-Fi so we are not deploying Wi-Fi', then six months later we got a call from the head of IT who said 'come in we need your help'".

The company had audited its network and found 28 hot spots on one floor of its headquarters. "Suddenly they realised they needed to take a secure approach and build a corporate service," Lal explained.

Chris Clark, BT's chief executive of wireless broadband, concurred with Lal. "It is a classic," he said. "Whether in the office or at home, the reality is that people like the benefits of Wi-Fi. As soon as individuals find this out they want to do it and expect to do it, and if corporates won't help them out then they'll do it themselves."

Clarke said that the problem is set to increase, pointing to what he called the "terrific" number of consumer WiFi boxes sold over the Christmas period. "Corporate IT directors have begun to recognise this over the past six months," he added.

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