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Beware: WiFi May Be Evil

What is that saying about throwing out the baby with the bathwater? After two instances of hacked WiFi connections being used by terrorists to send emails, WiFi security is making news in India. I think this is an over-reaction, and the media isn’t helping much. Stories of WiFi connections being used to send the emails were all over the TV Channels; now the newspapers have picked it up, and are blowing things out of proportion. In India, WiFi is suddenly evil, and don’t even think about telling your neighbours you have a WiFi connection.

The TRAI is getting into the act and planning to issue guidelines to ISPs, asking them to ensure that WiFi connections permit access only to authorized persons.

Newsflash: A WiFi connection that uses authorization can be hacked too, so making authorization mandatory will not help. It’ll only make the task a little more difficult. Here’s a thought – they’ve used email addresses from service providers like Yahoo to send these terror emails, so why not also force Yahoo, Rediff, Microsoft and Google to verify users from India, before allocating accounts? The mobile operators had to do it…And hey, since they used an auto rickshaw to plant bombs…shouldn’t auto rickshaw drivers be asked to note down IDs of every single passenger?

My problem is with WiFi irrationaly being highlighted: going after WiFi connections is pointless, and I’m afraid WiMax might face similar issues in the future. The WiFi connections, or even cybercafes in the past, weren’t used to bomb…they were used to send emails. If the idea is to be able to trace the people sending the emails, they’ll still find workarounds. However, in the process, the security agencies will end up inconveniencing those with WiFi connections, and Cybercafe customers and owners.

Cybercafes are struggling for survival in India, and the number of permits required, and the harassment of cybercafe owners is one of the reasons for that. Take a look at Reasons For The Declining Growth of Cybercafes In India.

Slashdot: Open WiFi may become illegal in India

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