Wireless data networks have built-in DOS attack solution

One of the great problems with 'always on' networks, that of denial of service attacks, shouldn't be a problem for users of the new mobile data networks at Telecom or Vodafone.

One of the great problems with "always on" networks, that of denial of service attacks (DOS), shouldn't be a problem for users of the new mobile data networks at Telecom or Vodafone.

Both companies have begun promoting their new high-speed data networks, Vodafone with its GPRS network and Telecom with its CDMA 1xRTT, branded as Mobile JetStream. Users of laptops with cellular PC cards can make use of firewalls and other security measures to ensure their connections aren't abused, but cellphones do not allow users to add such functionality.

Tim Hayward, the mobile data product manager for Vodafone, says the solution is simple.

"We don't allow anyone to send data to a mobile customer unless they've asked for it first."

Users can initiate a request for information such as visiting a website or connecting with a server, but the traditional approach of sending data packets to an IP address, such as pinging a server, won't work with these mobile devices.

Telecom adopts a similar strategy, according to Garry Mitchell, Telecom's manager of service development for mobile data.

"The only application running on the mobile is WAP. The user connects to a WAP gateway and the gateway connects to the outside world, so there's a distinct break in the set-up that means no-one can send data in unwanted."

Mitchell says for laptop users, Telecom recommends going one step further and including a firewall as well.

"We sell products right up and down the spectrum so there are security products and services that we can bundle for anyone from a small business up to a corporate."

As laptops become communication devices there will be more issues like this, says Mitchell. Many laptops sold today include Bluetooth for short range connectivity and WiFi for wireless LAN access and both present their own security issues.

"You don't want anyone connecting to your device wirelessly via Bluetooth without you knowing about it so yes, that's the kind of problem we'll see more of in the future."

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