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Blue Socket

Blue Socket

One of the latest threats to security are wardrivers, who cruise into a company parking lot and try to hack into the firm’s wireless network. But with burglars come cops. Burlington-based Bluesocket has been working to keep the wardrivers locked out, with gateways that securely manage wireless LANS. Company spokesperson Patrick Rafter chats about access, bad guys, and the new Gold Rush.

How did Bluesocket get started?

Bluesocket was founded by two entrepreneurs who met at British Telecom during the 1980s. The rising popularity of wireless networks and their inherent lack of security inspired this duo to launch Bluesocket in 1999 and build a single box to meet the need of this growing market.

Why do you feel that wardriving needs to be lessened?

The best thing about wireless access to networks and the Internet is that it’s so open. The worst thing is that it’s so open. Companies should be able to control who can enter through the front door or through the air to access network resources, in the same way a bouncer decides who gets into an exclusive nightclub. Without proper security precautions, wardriving lets unauthorized users of mobile devices gain access to company systems without permission. A wireless security fix should allow the right level of access to the right person. The ideal system allows the good guy to come in and the bad guy to stay out.

Do you think that companies and individuals should be better educated about wardriving?

Yes, but even more important than wardriving is the issue around user access control: who’s doing what, where and when. Reality is, most of the real threat comes from internal employees who are not being appropriately managed in terms of network access, bandwidth allocation and security. Then there are those who set up rogue access points recklessly, without the company’s knowledge.

How do you decide what changes to make to your security box?

Our unofficial motto here is, “Our product is subject to improvement without notice.” Our first priority is insuring the satisfaction of our customers. We make special efforts to meet with customers and learn what they want, then determine which new features should be added first, based on customer input. It’s fascinating to be doing this development in the wireless field because wireless devices are revolutionizing how and where we work, play, and communicate. WiFi is very cool technology.

What does Bluesocket see for the future, is there anything in the works?

Wireless technology is taking off with the same ubiquitous spread we saw with the introduction of cell phones and voice mail. The hotspots set up at 1,200 Starbucks is only the tip of the iceberg. Soon we’ll be seeing wireless connectivity in homes, airports, libraries, waiting rooms, car dealerships, wherever you happen to be. And since wireless can handle voice as well as data, organizations will able to reduce the costs of telephone systems as they transfer voice traffic from carriers to their own WLANs.

What do you find to be the most interesting part of your work?

Knowing that over half a million people in 26 countries depend on our wireless gateways every day is very satisfying. Also, designing the next generation of “anytime-anywhere” computing is tremendously exciting–the modern-day equivalent of the Gold Rush.

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