Saying 'No' to WiFi

Right next door to a Starbucks, Blue Cross of Idaho looks to Network Chemistry for an 802.11 lockdown

It's one of the little ironies of the enterprise WiFi revolution that now some companies have to buy 802.11 gear in order to enforce mandated "no wireless" security policies.

Jan Marshall, who runs network and technical services at major healthcare insurance firm Blue Cross of Idaho, says that he was looking for flexibility when he decided to try and enforce his company's RF lockdown policy.

"Network Chemistry Inc. gave us the most flexibility out of all of them," says Marshall. "We did our research on the Internet and this was the best fit for us."

Network Chemistry's RFprotect product line uses dedicated security scanners to detect and block wireless transmissions. Marshall has already bought 21 units to cover Blue Cross's 800 employees in a three-building campus. He expects to add more when a fourth office is completed.

One of the reasons that Marshall likes the system is that it's easy to change between a strict lockdown and allowing limited access to wireless. "We can go into the console and say we're going to authorize wireless from this access point to these PCs for a certain period of time and it does it automatically."

"The other thing we needed to consider was our neighbors," says Marshall. The Blue Cross buildings are situated right beside a Starbucks, which pumps out a strong WiFi signal along with overpriced, over-caffeinated coffee. Network Chemistry's system allows the network manager to block authorized users from associating with unauthorized access points, and vice versa.

"It's intelligent enough to stop them from being interfered with, but will protect our buildings," says Marshall.

According to Marshall, it took roughly three weeks from start to finish to install the scanners onsite. This included a couple of days for a contractor to install more wiring and hook up the Network Chemistry units. Marshall estimates that the project cost around $35,000 in all.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung