Wednesday, August 5, 2009

WI-FI Banned In Many Indian Offices

The Home Ministry has banned the use of wireless fidelity (WiFi) internet or WiFi-enabled computers in sensitive ministries and has issued dos and don’ts for departments and Indian missions abroad which use such service.

“In view of the vulnerabilities associated with the usage of WiFi and their exploitation by terrorists/criminals and unscrupulous hackers, sensitive ministries and departments are advised not to install or use any WiFi network in the offices,” says a July Ministry of Home Affairs circular.

The ministries will have to install “best available” WiFi intrusion detection systems and carry out regular audit of their airspace to detect hot spots, rogue access points etc. The move follows terror emails sent by militants of the Indian Mujahideen by hacking open WiFi services to send emails around the time of blasts in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi.

The MHA said that a survey of WiFi networks in the National Capital Region had shown that over 73% of the detected networks, including those in key central and Delhi government offices and prominent financial institutions, had “either no or very weak security.”

Ministries and Indian missions which install WiFi networks will have to ensure that these are robust enough to “protect confidentiality, integrity and availability of the information data” as well as implement secured authentication, authorization and encryption.

Officials traveling abroad have been told to desist using open-access points available free at international airports. And, in case they do, they should enable the firewall in their computer, run random checks to see if anyone else was using their computer, encrypt wireless traffic using virtual private network (VPN) etc, the guidelines say.