Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Terror mail: BMC to take precaution for its WiFi project

The Ahmedabad terror e-mail, which was sent by hacking into the Internet Protocol address of a US national living in Navi Mumbai, has prompted the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to take precautionary measures before it launches its ambitious WiFi project next year. The police cyber crime cell has also asked the civic body to take help from its experts and adequate measures before launching the project.

No login ID for visitors, auto log off, a 30-member software security team and WPA2 (wireless access points) encryption— the best available security standards along with strong firewalls that make cracking the passwords difficult— are some of the measures the consultant for the project suggested to the civic body before a service provider is selected in the next few months to implement the services.

“There will be no problems for the project, if adequate precautions are taken. We will review the project keeping the security measures in mind,” said additional municipal commissioner Anil Diggikar. Tenders for the service provider are expected to be floated in August and if it goes as planned, the project will be launched next year, he said.

Pune University’s Science and Technology Park which is drafting a similar plan for 171 km area of Pimpri-Chinchwad, is a consultant for the BMC’s WiFi plan.

Dr Rajendra Jagdale, Director General, STP, said that the Mumbai project would have the best practices for WiFi from across the world. “The WPA2 standard recommended by the IEEE is the advanced security protocol currently available for WiFi networks. By implementing this standard, it will be difficult for the hackers to crack the security,” he said.

The project will enable citizens in the entire 400 sq km area of Mumbai with intranet facility that will have WiFi mesh combination. To access the intranet , one should have a login ID and a password, which will be provided by the BMC and service provider. “Only those who are residing in Mumbai and have a residential proof will only be given login ID. Visitors will not be entitled to get such logins, unless they provide authentication,” Dr Jagdale said.

After the case of US national Ken Heywood, whose internet connection was misused, it is proposed that the WiFi unlimited connection when not in use would be automatically logged off. “Users with unlimited access do not bother to log off the account. In such case, when the connection is not in use, we will keep an auto-log-off (after 10 minutes),” he said.

Similarly, multiple strong firewalls at every hotspots— hotel, cyber cafes etc. — and a dedicated team to track down hackers have also been proposed.

Joint commissioner of police, ATS, Hemant Karkare, said his team also communicated with the BMC for the project. “We have asked them to take precautionary measures and keep a mechanism that will track login IDs. The cyber crime will also be in touch with the BMC to guide it,” he told Newsline.

The issue was also discussed in the state government’s meeting regarding security in the city last week.

An e-mail sent by ‘Indian Muujahideen’ minutes before Sunday’s blasts was traced to the WiFi Internet Protocol address at US national Ken Haywood's residence in Navi Mumbai. The police believe his laptop was switched off when the mail was sent. They also suspect that the sender of the mail may have used Haywood’s unsecure WiFi network.

Haywood is a corporate training manager with Campbell White, which describes itself as India's premiere executive soft skills trainer and helps develop communication skills needed to succeed in business. The firm's website says it was founded, developed, and run by foreign born professionals, along with Indians who have been living abroad.

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