The insecurity of not being unwired

Iowa State finds that due to limited wireless access on campuses, students are setting up their own "rogue," insecure access points. Solution: Deploy wireless.

Security breaches at colleges and universities seem to be all too common place these days, but at least one university has taken a proactive approach and discovered dozens of potential areas where data thieves could break in. The (Iowa) Quad-City Times reports that a security risk audit of nine University of Iowa academic buildings set up by staff turned up 80 so-called "rogue" points to gain wireless Internet access in areas not yet part of the system.

"Someone could actually use the university's e-mail system to send spam or download copyrighted materials," said Carl Hirschman, vice president for X-Wires Communications in Iowa City. "Really, the worst-case scenario is that they could use that (access) ... to hack into the university's system."

It appears the weaknesses were found in the university's wireless network. To gain access to the wireless system, users must have registered computers or identification numbers and passwords. The school's wireless service covers 15 percent of campus but some students aren't happy with the limited wireless hotspots and appear to have set up their own "rogue" access points.

Iowa is attempting to determine where the rogue points are and get them wired to the Internet. The university is also expanding its wireless network, which would eliminate the need for access points altogether.

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