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Security risks of Wi-Fi enabled PDAs

What are the security risks of Wi-Fi enabled PDAs (like the BlackBerry devices currently in testing)?

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Whether it's the older and established iPAQs or the upcoming BlackBerries, Wi-Fi enabled PDAs are going to have basically the same security vulnerabilities as their LAN host counterparts. The main vulnerability is the weakness in WEP, but that's not really an issue any longer with WPA and 802.11i which "fix" all of the known problems with WEP. If the wireless network infrastructure is designed and managed well with various WLAN security best-practices in place, there's not really an issue to be concerned with. I think the biggest security issue here is the physical security (or lack of it) associated with handheld devices. If someone steals or finds a lost handheld that has Wi-Fi capabilities and the proper authentication systems are not in place, the network is likely theirs if they want it to be.

This was first published in December 2003

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