Nkieto’s post today brought to my attention an interesting article, “Fon Security Scenarios“, which Fredrik Bjork posted in his blog in November 2006. Bjork is a expert Information Security professional, but the article is written without dense technical language, so it should be easy for everyone to read. While he touches on numerous points which I and others have brought up publicly, his conclusions seem to be that Fon needs to tighten the thumbscrews down even more than they have.
I expressed exactly the opposite view recently in my comments to a post in Dema’s Fon Blog:
“I don’t believe that an proprietary hardware + firmware solution will succeed in a grass-roots, residential wifi-sharing environment. Municipal and commercial projects would seem to be the most appropriate place for La Foneras to be utilized. Uniformity brings down the cost of development and maintenance, and is possible when deploying in vacant territory. La Fonera brought waste and dissapointment when people learned (too late) that they were forced to retire perfectly functional hardware with a flawed and less functional one.
If I were developing a network of wifi-sharers like Fon claims to be, I would focus on developing standards that allow people to build secure and authentic hotspots with whatever equipment they have on hand. I would also partner with router manufacturers to get them shipped with (or at least provide for download) “share-ready” firmware like they have done with ZoneAlarm and other security solutions. After activating, the registration system could decide if the new member’s ISP was acceptable, and a rebate check could be mailed after the hotspot had been active for a certain number of months (or sooner, if a certain threshhold of profit had originated there) similar to rebates for Linksys routers with Vonage built in.
The Fon Movement does not consist of La Foneras, official crippleware and exciting corporate vaporware announcements. The Fon Movement is the active members of the discussion boards and other wifi communities who maintain the enthusiam and volunteer their efforts for a common cause. The Fon Network is only superficially about carpet-bombing the countryside with random routers. The Fon Network is the (now-secret) number of Foneros who were intrigued and trusting enough to take the time to register for membership (and this is Fon’s greatest accomplishment – phishing for email addresses). It is possible for Fon to nurture these resources to make something better than, say, Google’s targeted municipal installations, but Fon must learn to establish cooperation instead of exploring ways to establish control.”
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