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Open wireless networks raise privacy issues and entail increased risk of malicious attacks and illegal downloading activities. Such networks are nonetheless attractive-particularly to universities-because they enhance usability and thus expand access to nonsensitive system resources. At universities, such access brings numerous benefits to students, faculty, and the surrounding community alike. Here, the authors describe the challenges of removing individual user authentication requirements at the perimeter of a university network in which mobile device users access system resources over wireless links to the wired infrastructure. The authors discuss how to mitigate the security and privacy risks entailed in an open network of this sort, and also describe how IT departments can vary the network's degree of openness.
Date of Publication: July-Aug. 2008