My Notebook Sleeps Around

9:00 AM -- There's a very obvious problem with the promiscuous nature of networking today. Wireless makes it easy for a mobile computer (notebook or otherwise) to connect with an arbitrary network without much work -- or the necessary protection. Connecting to a free AP might yield free email, but the opportunity for data theft or picking up a virus is fairly great if adequate precautions aren't taken. The infected notebook could also cause significant harm when connecting with the enterprise network after a romp in the field.

A number of vendors, including Roving Planet Inc. and Network Chemistry Inc. , among others, have developed tools designed to assist in the practice of safe networking. Functions in this space can include making sure a virus scanner is installed and up to date and security settings are in place and enforced. Centralized control is a must for enterprise-class installations of this class of software.

Client-side functionality is likely to be a must in the future for reasons of performance, security, and integrity. In the interim, users can do a lot by making sure file and printer sharing are off, ad-hoc connections are disabled, firewalls are turned on, files are encrypted, and... well, enough innuendo and metaphor for one blog entry.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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