WiFi: safety through insecurity

Now that’s an interesting idea: on this post on salon.com (registration required), Micah Joel writes:

“Last week, I turned off all the security features of my wireless router. I removed WEP encryption, disabled MAC address filtering and made sure the SSID was being broadcast loud and clear. Now, anyone with a wireless card and a sniffer who happens by can use my connection to access the Internet. And with DHCP logging turned off, there’s really no way to know who’s using it.

What’s wrong with me? Haven’t I heard about how malicious wardrivers can use my connection from across the street to stage their hacking operations? How my neighbors can steal my bandwidth so they don’t have to pay for their own? How I’m exposing my home network to attacks from the inside? Yup.

So why am I doing this? In a word, privacy. By making my Internet connection available to any and all who happen upon it, I have no way to be certain what kinds of songs, movies and pictures will be downloaded by other people using my IP address. And more important, my ISP has no way to be certain if it’s me.”

Hmmm… so, if you’re accused of pirating, just say “it may not have been me”. Will that work? It may, for the first person to try that. As long as they don’t find the stuff on your PC, that is :)

Linksys provides Linux source code for wireless access points

Linksys has published the Linux based source code for their WET54gv2 Access Point. There is already a big movement regarding the WRT54g Wireless Router Linux firmware here.

This is bound to spread and pressure other manufacturers as well, as most of the routers and APs are based on the same chipsets. I highly welcome this move by Linksys, and I suspect this will make their systems quite popular. Already, enhanced versions of the firmware are being made available, which helps sell routers without having to spend the R&D budget.

I’m considering getting one as well, if only to see what can be done…

Ubiquity Breeds Utility – Wireless predictions

(via Smart Mobs:) VentureBlog has a mind blowing article on how the availability of WiFi EVERYTHERE changes habits. The predictions in the article are worth a read, as are the comments.
One of the most interesting applications is UCSD’s ActiveCampus: “The ActiveCampus project aims to provide location-based services for educational networks and understand how such systems are used. ActiveClass, enables collaboration between students and professors by serving as a visual moderator for classroom interaction. ActiveCampus Explorer uses a person’s context, like location, to help engage them in campus life.”
Imagine what something like this could do inside a corporation environment!

What is the ROI on a bathroom?

Computerworld has a great article on companies offering free WiFi. Obviously the customer attraction and retention rate for shops offering free WiFi is excellent.
Quote: “John Wooley, chairman, CEO and president of restaurant chain Schlotzsky’s Inc. in Austin, isn’t so shy in sharing details of what he calls the “strong ROI” from the company’s free Wi-Fi service. Schlotzsky’s currently offers free Wi-Fi in 30 of its 600 company-owned or franchised Schlotzsky’s Delis. Wooley says he figures that the free Wi-Fi results in an additional 15,000 visits per restaurant per year by customers who spend an average of $7 per visit.
That means Wi-Fi service brings in more than $100,000 per year per outlet in return for an investment of about $8,000 per restaurant for wireless infrastructure, Wooley says. The largest continuing cost is backhaul to the Internet over 1.54Mbit/sec. T1 circuits, Wooley says. Since the cost of a T1 circuit varies from $300 to $700, depending on what part of the country you’re in, he says Schlotzsky’s would average those costs to induce existing franchisees to offer the service. (New franchisees will be required to offer free Wi-Fi, Wooley notes.)”
Read the full article to see where the caption comes from :)