Hotelier Technology Update WPA Business travellers are increasingly concerned about the security of HSIA services. The weakest link in any hotelâ€™s network is its wireless network, as signals between the access point and a computer can be compromised easily. WPA2 Enterprise provides total security encryption to all data between the computer and the access point. Because iBAHN has implemented the enterprise version, guests need only go through the WPA set up process once, and then it works at all iBAHN hotels. iBAHN and T-Mobile are the only network service providers that have deployed WPA Enterprise on their entire wireless network.
What is WPA and why should I care? When using a wireless access point (AP), the transmission of the data between the laptop computer and the AP is typically the weakest link in the process. Without encryption in place, the information sent to the AP is easily readable. WPA is an acronym for Wi-Fi Protected Access. WPA was created in response to weaknesses found in the previous encryption system, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). The WEP system has weaknesses that have been published and there are tools available on the World Wide Web to crack the system and enable data to be copied as it goes between the laptop and the AP.
What are the various flavours of WPA technology? WPA has changed over time. It has two major revisions and two major options. WPA was designed to address the weaknesses in WEP. The official standard for WPA is IEEE 802.11i. WPA is now in its second version, commonly referred to as WPA2. WPA2 includes a different encryption algorithm that is considered totally secure. All devices with Wi-Fi certification after March 2006 are WPA2 devices. The two major options are Consumer and Enterprise. The Consumer option is similar to WEP in that there is a pre-shared key used for the encryption. This key is the same for all users that want to use the AP on the network. The Enterprise options require a username and password that are unique for each individual user. As with WEP, there are guidelines on the web as to how to crack WPA-PSK (the Consumer version). The security of WPA-PSK is dependent on the quality of the pre-shared key.
So what does all this mean to hoteliers? Many users and hoteliers believe that the use of a VPN connection will prevent security issues. Moreover, many hotels rely on their guests to provide that security for themselves. What you should know is that using a VPN does not necessarily guarantee security. Many VPN systems provide a secure tunnel for corporate traffic, but send non-corporate traffic via an open connection (a “split tunnel”). This means that a guest’s confidential information can still be easily intercepted on wireless connections. Hotels can help protect guests from inadvertently exposing their personal data by implementing WPA2. iBAHN has invested in WPA2 Enterprise Level implementation at each of its hotels offering wireless services. This means that guests who go through the registration process once will be able to automatically connect to the WPA-secured wireless connection at any other iBAHN hotel. They do not need to create unique user names and passwords at each hotel. This convenience is an added advantage to using the iBAHN Wi-Fi system.
How does iBAHN help? iBAHN understands the need for security and has deployed WPA2 throughout its wireless network. iBAHN continuously monitors security technology, is aware when security applications have been compromised, and implements new technologies to keep its network secure. WPA-PSK is one of those compromised technologies and is why iBAHN has chosen WPA2 Enterprise to implement on its network. T-Mobile and iBAHN are the only major network suppliers that have deployed WPA2 Enterprise throughout their entire Wi-Fi network.
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Published on Sep 9, 2010