Ho, ho, no!


For the love of St. Nicholas, do not let anyone hang holiday decorations willy-nilly about the workplace lest you render the office Wi-Fi net as discombobulated as Santa’s sleigh without Rudolph.

That’s the gist of a warning from wireless-LAN monitoring vendor AirMagnet, which this week “announced the results of a recently conducted survey measuring wireless signal strength in a standard office setting both before and after introducing a change in the office environment — holiday decorations.” Bah humbug, says my go-to guy on such matters, but we’ll get to his complaint about “the stupidest press release I have ever received” in just a moment.

First, AirMagnet has data to share in its “media alert,” as the company’s tests “showed the decorations had a significant impact on the Wi-Fi network, with: signal strength decreased by 25 per cent; signal deterioration increased over distance by one-third; and, signal distribution uneven in some locations, deteriorating signal strength by an additional 10 per cent.”

Maybe they didn’t hang the tinsel strand by strand. I’ve always been a strand-by-strand guy myself.

But the details are really beside the point, says Joel Snyder, a senior partner at Opus One in Tucson, Ariz., and a member of the Network World Lab Alliance.

“Holiday decorations, like any change in the environment, can make wireless better, or they can make it worse,” Snyder says. “To try and instill fear into people, suggesting that they should be afraid to put up holiday decorations, is ridiculous. Worrying about such degradation (which, by the way, could be an improvement as well) is silly, and it’s temporary, and it’s slight.”

To be fair, the AirMagnet press release does include the phrase “as with any change introduced to a wireless environment,” but that caveat gets rather lost under an ominous headline that reads: “Holiday Decorations Can Create Major Wi-Fi Disturbances.”

More from Snyder: “The point here is that any change in the environment, from moving people around (they are, after all, large bags of water) to file cabinets to . . . well, to anything, will change the Wi-Fi behavior. We all know that; that’s why we all instinctively move to a window when we make a cell call and the signal is bad.

“Hell, if you’re going to say decorations are a problem, you might as well point out that parking cars in parking lots will change your wireless, since a lot of our wireless goes out one window, bounces off the environment and comes in another window. Maybe we should be requiring people with SUVs to park closer to the building because that will improve our wireless experience.”

Hey, Santa, would you mind moving that rust-bucket? It’s doing nothing for our signal.

Gone phishin’

F-Secure’s chief research officer Mikko Hypponen asks an interesting question: Why can’t domain name registrars simply refuse to accept the business of individuals who are trying to register names that would be used only for phishing?

“I know you are in the business of registering domain names for people who need them,” Hypponen writes in an open letter to registrars. “However, are you sure you want to let people register any domain name? Even when the name is obviously going to be used for phishing?”

He provides a glaring example: A “Craig Smith” registering the name “signin-ebay-c.com” with directNIC and then launching a phishing site that directs the personal information collected from unsuspecting users to an unsecured e-mail address.

“Wouldn’t it make sense for a registrar to filter such obvious registrations and have a real person review and approve them before they go through?” Hypponen asks.

We had a few folks batting around these questions on Buzzblog this week, starting with the original post.

The head of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, Dave Jevans, says ICANN policies are responsible for enabling much of the abuse Hypponen wants addressed, and hence the issue is “complex.” Finally, directNIC boss Sigmond Solares doth protest that his company doesn’t deserve to be painted as the bad guy.


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