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China Mobile Needs Safe Wireless Technologies for 2008 Olympics
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As the 2008 Beijing Olympics draw closer, China is testing wireless local area networks (WLAN) to determine which one is safest.


China Mobile, the country's largest mobile operator and mobile communication partner of the Beijing Olympics, is carrying out the tests.


Test results to date show that the current WLAN technology 802.11i has big security loopholes and is easy to attack, said Ma Benteng, senior engineer with China Mobile.


The Beijing Olympics will be the first to use WLAN in the Games' history. Journalists would be major users of the networks.


At a meeting held by China Mobile recently, media users were skeptical about the safety of the current WLAN technology.


Results from more than a month of tests carried out by the national safety research center on information project show that 802.11i has serious technological defects and safety risks, said Ma, who is in charge of mobile planning for the 2008 Olympics.


Researchers said that articles on the technological defects of 802.11i were freely available on the internet, as well as tools for exploiting the defects. The internet also provides methods for decoding the technology.


Anybody who can connect to the Internet could download the software and steal private information from others, said Ma.


That would potentially cause users huge losses, especially media users whose Olympics stories, photos or visual clips could be stolen during transmission, said Ma.


As system operator, China Mobile would be expected to assume some of the responsibility if this were to happen. Ma called for concerned departments and companies to pay close attention to the safety issue and propose safer technologies.


The current WLAN technology, based on the 802.11 series, has drawn criticism from experts and customers because of its safety loopholes. At a seminar held on September 11 this year, researchers used tools downloaded from the Internet and decoded protection passwords in just five minutes.


Intel and IWNCOMM, a private Chinese company, have separately developed 802.11i and WAPI to remedy safety defects.


Analysts said that 802.11i's poor test performance may give China's WAPI an opportunity. WAPI was adopted as China's national standard in 2003.


(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2006)

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