News International nips wireless threats in bud

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News International nips wireless threats in bud

News International has rolled out a monitoring solution to tackle the increasing number of potential wireless threats. The company has deployed sensor arrays to detect and identify unauthorised WiFi and Bluetooth devices across the firm's publishing and production campus in Wapping, which produces newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and News of the World.

"We don't have a wireless infrastructure," said Tor Gisvold, commercial director of Centrecore, the IT services subsidiary of News International. "We are protecting the non-wireless infrastructure. We don't allow wireless networks, but regardless of what we try to do, there are so many wireless devices turning up on site at the moment. Most portable PCs, new phones and so on are wireless."

Gisvold found the answer in a monitoring solution from Red-M, which consists of a series of antennae blanketing the site with overlapping wireless zones. The sensors pick up wireless devices and report their identity back to a central monitoring system, which then compares the data against site policies and lists of known devices. The site covers four buildings, with seven floors, which house 3,500 users.

The process of surveying the site, deploying the sensors and gathering the initial data took around a month, said Gisvold. A mountain of data needed to be processed. "You need to assess all of them in groups so you can exclude them from countermeasures. All this takes time, because people don't know their own MAC addresses and IDs. And some people have some very strange names on their [Bluetooth] phones."

The technology was surprisingly inexpensive, said Gisvold, although "there was a lot of hidden expense, in terms of man hours and monitoring". But every day he sees a reminder of why the firm has gone to such lengths: "I can sit in my office and surf the internet from someone's wireless network across the street. It is just too easy."

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition

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