How to sabotage your wireless network
Consumer-grade wireless gear and a consumer mind-set are bad for business networks
All too many businesses start a wireless network by installing Wi-Fi the same way you would at home. They will buy a low-end, consumer-grade access point from a Linksys, D-Link, or Buffalo Technology and put it in a common area, such as a conference room. Just like that, potentially for less than $100, you have a wireless network that is convenient for your employees and guests to use. You saved a bundle, but it's a big mistake.
Let's assume you have enough technical savvy to deploy the WAP (wireless access point) properly and transmit on a channel in which there is limited interference. If not, you could create a self-inflicted denial of service by choosing a frequency currently being used by your secretary's cordless phone. Because cordless phones often transmit on the same 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies need for Wi-Fi, your browser may time out or your email stop every time someone calls the secretary -- and now you know why.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Meraki Enterprise Cloud Controller is a fantastic, cloud-managed wireless LAN solution. | Netgear ProSafe wireless LAN system is also a first-rate solution for small and midsized networks, as long as you don't need first-rate technical support. ]
But let's assume you were smart enough to avoid that. Let's assume you also know to enable best security practices such as using WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2), because if you botch the security you may have an even bigger problem on your hands. Choosing weak encryption/authentication, or none whatsoever, is an open invitation to the bad guys and a security breach.
If you've passed the deployment and security configuration tests, congratulations, but you're far from home free. These are just the beginning of the issues a business will trip over if it chooses to rely on consumer-grade gear.
Wireless LANs: Consuming questions
What happens when you have a guest or customer who needs to check his email and asks to use your Wi-Fi? Will your consumer-grade access point have the capability to run a simultaneous SSID (service set identifier) and 802.1q to isolate the guest traffic from your business traffic? Will your consumer-grade solution have a guest Web portal that supports a variety of operating systems -- and devices such as Android, Apple iOS, and BlackBerry smartphones and tablets? Even if it does, who at your organization will know how to set this up properly?