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Air Time: Wireless FUD--Alive and Well

Fear, uncertainty and doubt are emotions few of us revel in. So it should be no surprise that FUD sales tactics have always been effective. Historically, IBM is the company most closely associated with FUD. If its own offering was functionally deficient and overpriced, as it often was, the blue-suited sales pros used FUD to close deals. An aggressive IBM salesman once tried to convince my boss that the Ethernet system I was implementing was a poor strategic choice because simple laws of physics would forever constrain Ethernet to 10 Mbps while IBM's Token Ring would zoom into the future. That tactic didn't work, but similar strategies are employed every day, especially in the highly competitive wireless network market.

Fear

Wireless security provides an ideal context for using fear as a sales strategy. Specialized vendors have made a science out of it by publicizing security vulnerabilities, legitimate and dubious alike. They appeal to base instincts of IT managers, many of whom have lived through the pain of a major system failure. No prospect is worse than a serious information security breach

There's no denying the real issues surrounding wireless security. Poorly created standards, system vulnerabilities and poor implementations have all contributed to make security a critical concern for managers of wireless networks. Fortunately, the industry has responded, to the point where it is now possible to implement a wireless network that is more secure than legacy wired networks--at a reasonable cost. Still, in every reader survey, security rises to the top as the greatest obstacle to deploying wireless networks.