Wi-Fi Security for Schools

By Joe Dysart

While scores of K–12 campuses are reaping the conveniences of Wi-Fi connectivity in which entire schools and sometimes entire districts log onto a computer network wirelessly, such systems are fraught with security vulnerabilities.

The reason: Campuses are easy pickings for identity thieves and other hackers, since few notebook users know how to protect themselves from wireless intruders, or are even aware that they are vulnerable to hackers, according to Wi-Fi security experts.

Jay Tumas, network operations manager at Harvard University, characterizes the typical Wi-Fi hotspot as “extremely convenient” and “inherently insecure” for hackers, partly because many students and staffers use notebooks that have the wireless security features turned off.

That lackadaisical attitude often undoes any security system built into a campus Wi-Fi system, and exposes the entire network to an experienced hacker, he says.

“Once connected, it’s possible for an experienced hacker to not only access data on that laptop, but also use the laptop’s authenticated connection to a wired office network to access other network-connected resources such as servers or other computers,” agrees Nicholas Miller, CEO of AirPatrol (www.airpatrol.com), a Wi-Fi security solutions provider.

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