NY Law: Firewall Your WiFi Network Or Go To Jail
Networking Pipeline | November 7 2005
Is Big Brother about to come to the New York suburbs? A proposal in Westchester County would require that businesses and some home offices with wireless network install separate firewalled servers or face fines of up to $500.
On the face of it, such a law is ridiculous. Have do-gooders gotten so out of hand that they now need to use the law to force you to use specific security measures on your own network?
As usual, when pols get involved in technology, bad things happen. But this one's a bit of a surprise, because there's a tiny bit of merit behind the proposal, even though it sounds more than anything else like a cheap publicity stunt by pols looking to get press and votes.
The purpose of the law isn't to protect the owners of the networks from infiltration --- it's to protect unwitting consumers from data theft. The idea is that if a business takes credit card numbers and other personal information from customers, that business should protect the data being stolen by wireless hackers.
To that end, it requires businesses to have a network gateway server with a firewall on it to protect the network. The law would also apply to home offices that took personal data from people.
The proposal even requires that Hot Spots have such a firewalled server, even if it's a free Hot Spot that doesn't take people's private information.
Let's hope this law doesn't actually come into being. It'll hurt businesse and home offices, cause tremendous confusion among them, and won't really do anything much to protect people's privacy.
The proposal, by itself, won't do much except get some Westchester pols a bit of publicity. The real problem with data theft isn't at Mom-and-Pop operations on Main Street. It's that big sites and companies don't treat the data as private, or don't use the proper security. National legislation is required to control access to your personal data. Targeting small businesses won't help solve the problem.
Last modified November 7, 2005