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Berkeleyan

Letter to the editor

03 December 2003

Dear Editor,

Your Nov. 20 story on the recent Berkeley Academic Senate meeting created, I believe, a misleading impression regarding security issues with wireless Internet connections. It quoted Professor Ken Goldberg as saying, in his presentation on initial findings by the Senate Committee on Computing and Communications: “When students returned this fall, many of them brought wireless connections to the network, which are vulnerable to Internet computer viruses.” A wireless connection, however, is simply another form of Internet connection; the degree of vulnerability of a computer to virus penetration is not determined by its connection to the Internet. All computers potentially are vulnerable and should be managed to minimize such vulnerability.

Perhaps the problem that Professor Goldberg was describing is not related to wireless connections per se, but to the fact that many computers brought to campus are not managed well and are vulnerable or already have been infected. This is a very real and serious problem that needs to be addressed throughout the campus.

There indeed are significant security concerns with respect to wireless Internet connections, among them the fact that wireless communications can be intercepted easily by others; can be initiated by anyone in the vicinity of a wireless hub unless access management has been implemented; and are mobile, making it difficult to locate a computer that is infected or otherwise causing damage to the network.

David Wasley
Office of Information Resources & Communications
UC Office of the President