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Wireless Security Fun (Or The Money Hole)

I decided to read Tom’s Hardware Guides article on implementing WPA.  Here’s a quote:

The good news is that, when it works, WPA is vastly more secure than WEP, and a hell of a lot easier to use, especially in the consumer-friendly Pre-Shared Key (WPA-PSK) mode. The bad is that if the present trend continues, many WLAN owners may have to abandon their older products and purchase all new goods in order to enjoy the benefits of WPA.

Basically, if you invested in earlier WiFi equipment.  If you want to run a ‘secure’ home network the general idea is ‘toss everything you have and start over’.  Wonderful.   This seems to be a recurring phenomenon when it comes to applying computer and network security.   I understand the technical reasons for why.  But from a consumer point of view it feels like this endless cycle of having to buy crud.  Jump on the bandwagon then realize all of your stuff is ‘insecure’ but HEY just pay MORE money to upgrade and be ‘secure’.

Okay, let’s do some quick math how much this is costing on the aggregate (which the equipment manufacturers are calling profits). 

  • Let’s say buying one WiFi card is about $40. 
  • And in a household people buy 2 for some reason or another. 
  • They also need an Access Point.  We’ll average that at around $100.  (Yes I know there are super cheapy models).  
  • Okay, let’s assume that is the median price and you bought it before any upgrades could be implemented since the hardware isnt up to snuff. 

Let’s say that 100,000 people did this.   $40 *2 * 100,000 + $100 * 100,000 = $18,000,000. 

Of course it has to be far more than 100k that did this.  If it was a million people that’s $180 million bucks that the economy was costed just to “upgrade” and be safe.   That isn’t a small amount of change any way you look at it.  Also, let’s not forget we had 100k people or perhaps 1 million people that bought a pile of equipment that’s essentially useless and must be discarded!

Maybe there’s another word for this ‘recommended’ upgrading.  scam.

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