Have I mentioned that I want a wireless office? Because I do. I\u2019m still researching bandwidth and security issues that could arise with going completely wireless.\u00a0 You may have seen the article I wrote about Zoom Room\u00a0-- \u00a0they\u2019ve created a Mac-based wireless environment.\u00a0 But we use PCs at my office\u00a0and I don\u2019t think that\u2019s going to change anytime soon.\u00a0 So, my question is, how can I make sure the wireless network is safe enough and robust enough to handle the day-to-day operations of my company?\n\tWhether or not a wireless connection can handle the load from an entire office depends largely on the type of files that employees share with each other.\u00a0\n\tAccording to Dave Rosenbaum, president of Real-Time Computer Services, \u201cIf the office staff is largely using data from an internal server, and if the data files are relatively small and largely non-interactive (i.e. word processing documents and spreadsheets), then the WiFi bandwidth, although limited, may not have a material impact on usability or performance.\u00a0 However, if employees are using data from an internal server and the data files are large (i.e., large PowerPoint or video files), or if the files are highly interactive (i.e. databases), then the WiFi bandwidth can be a significant limitation and bottleneck, and can create a much less useable environment than wired connectivity.\u201d\n\tThat makes me a little nervous.\u00a0 Many files that we share are simple Word documents or spreadsheets, but employees are also working on PowerPoints for Webinars\u00a0as well as videos for YouTube.\u00a0\n\tSteve Peters of Kuma Signals\u00a0gives this insight about interference:\n\t\u201cWith multiple access points, you have many users who are potentially interfering with each other.\u00a0 In a dense environment, the interference can become an issue that affects your data rate. \u201d\n\tKuma Signals has two government contracts with the Department of Defense working on wireless communication.\u00a0 \u201cWe work on the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), and specifically on a project called the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW).\u00a0 That\u2019s the part of JTRS that\u2019s most like commercial broadband wireless,\u201d says Peters.\u00a0 It\u2019s positive news that the government is investing money into wireless communication.\u00a0 The research that occurs in that area will spill over into the commercial space.\n\tRosenbaum is pessimistic that WiFi will ever get larger bandwidth than wired speeds:\u00a0 \u201cWireless speeds keep increasing, but still lag far behind wired speeds (which also keep increasing).\u00a0 And data keeps getting bigger.\u201d\u00a0\n\tBut others, like Jeff Schmidt, CEO of JAS Global Advisors, are more optimistic:\u00a0 \u201cBecause of the cost benefits, and the prevalence of smart mobile devices, a true wireless office is technically possible today and will become increasingly common in the future.\u201d\n\tCost is what led me to this search of a wireless office in the first place.\u00a0 I was astounded when I learned how much it will cost to wire our new office space.\u00a0 It seems silly to stick with wires when WiFi is becoming more and more available, especially in mobile technology.\u00a0 Mobile devices on the company network must be considered when thinking about WiFi security.\n\t\u201cMany employees access WiFi networks with their mobile devices,\u201d says Schmidt. \u201cSince mobile device configuration is often outside of the purview of corporate security staff, this adds an additional security vulnerability.\u00a0 In other words, while company laptops may be well protected, malware on a mobile phone could potentially jump to the corporate network via the WiFI connection.\u201d\n\tSo what is the most critical component for securing my company\u2019s WiFi?\u00a0 Schmidt says start with a closed WiFi:\n\t\u201cI define a closed WiFi as one that is authenticated and encrypted using a technology like WiFi Protected Access (WPA) which limits the wireless connection between the device and the wireless base station to authenticated parties and encrypts the traffic flowing over the wireless. A closed WiFi is also limited to authenticated parties, so the risk of rogue connections to your local device decreases.\u00a0 The over-the-air connection is encrypted, so the risk of snooping or altering the traffic on that leg is reduced.\u00a0 Note this only addresses the wireless leg; only end-to-end encryption (SSL, VPN, etc) solves the entire problem. Overall, treat a WiFi no differently than any untrusted network connection.\u00a0 Use other time-tested technologies, particularly SSL and Virtual Private Networks, to assure security on an end-to-end basis.\u201d\n\tWiFi must be encrypted, passwords should be changed often, and remember: there is no such thing as 100% security for WiFi.\u00a0 You can protect the WiFi like an armored truck, but if you give the keys to the wrong person, then your information is in the wrong hands.\u00a0\n\tWould you consider taking your company completely wireless?