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Wireless Networking Policy

Introduction

Wireless Ethernet networks offer many possibilities for members of the University to connect using mobile devices to the campus network and hence on to the Internet. A wireless network base station, or access point (AP), can be connected to the existing cabled Ethernet network and further connectivity can be provided to others with suitably configured wireless Ethernet cards.

A number of installation and configuration issues arise when installing wireless networks, or other equipment which uses the same frequencies, that may make the University infrastructure vulnerable to attack or reduce its reliability. Accordingly, this document outlines core University requirements and related information on installation and configuration. It is essential to the stability of the campus network that those who wish to deploy a wireless LAN (WLAN) understand and comply with them fully.

The need for wireless LANs

Before installing a WLAN you need to consider its potential use. WLANs are certainly not recommended as reliable, high-speed connections that replace a cabled LAN. WLANs are prone to interference in unpredictable ways and may interfere with other equipment on campus. A WLAN would be useful in an open area, which might be difficult to cable and/or has potential users passing through who might want to work online for short periods of time.

Authorisation

University Regulations, and recommendations from UKERNA, demand that no individual is given access to the University network without authorisation of some form. Typically this is via username and password.

Wireless security

Any network raises security issues. Wireless networks have unique problems as physical access to a room or building is not always required to use the WLAN.

If a WLAN is to be open to individuals who might be using computers that are not university-owned, for instance postgraduates, attempts need to be made to make sure that they do not pass on viruses or worms that would cause disruption to other systems. All connecting computers must have anti-virus software installed and up to date operating system patches, as required under University Regulations and the Code of Practice on Information Security and Access. Those using the WLAN need to be made aware of this requirement and the associated dangers of attacks by hackers specifically seeking out WLANs.

Wireless standards

WLAN standards are rapidly changing. Different IEEE standards have varying connection speeds and building penetration. Hence any WLAN installation should be viewed as having a short to medium-term lifespan, typically only 2 years. This should be contrasted against the 10-15 year lifespan of a cabled LAN infrastructure.

The Technical Services team within IT Services will be able to advise on the current recommended WLAN standard to use.

WLAN installation requirements

A number of steps are required when planning and installing a wireless LAN or other similar equipment. These include obtaining permission from LSS to install a wireless device, and to indicate to LSS its location and intended range. Permission should be obtained by emailing itservicedesk@bradford.ac.uk.

If a wireless device is found on campus that has not been authorised for by LSS it may be disconnected or disabled. This would only happen after reasonable attempts to contact the relevant department have failed. In addition, any AP that is suspected of being used for denial of service attacks or is allowing insecure access, will be disabled immediately without prior contact.