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NetworkWorld.com - Q: In a public library environment, what are some methods that would allow us to provide "secure" Wi-Fi access (for Web browsing) to the public, while protecting their privacy and minimizing administration time? - Jeanne, Albany, N.Y.
The Wizards gaze deeply into their crystal ball and respond:
Bob Friday, Airespace
That is a great question, and a timely one, given the launch of the newly constructed Central Library in Seattle a few weeks ago. This is meant to be a flagship for the national library system, blending state-of-the-art architecture with best-of-breed networking technology. Delivering secure, reliable WLAN services proved tricky in the Seattle Public Library environment, given the difficult radio frequency characteristics of the building, the mobile nature of the user base, and the tendency for millions of books to absorb radio waves. That environment revealed several key “best practices” that might be applicable to your library environment:
Keerti Melkote, Aruba Networks
The main problem with enhancing security and privacy is that it usually involves client software, or at a minimum, configuration of the client devices. In a public access network, asking patrons to configure settings such as WEP keys is not practical. One promising technology is that of Secure Socket Layer VPNs. The client piece of an SSL VPN is typically downloaded as a browser-based applet, and is ostensibly client operating system independent. Although SSL VPNs are not transparent to all types of protocols, they do allow Web browsing while encrypting traffic over the air.