Can you stop Wi-Fi signals from leaving your building premises?

Though Wi-Fi is relatively secure these days, its security implementation and user mishandling still remain a concern for network administrators. A new wall paper technology offers to block Wi-Fi signals at the perimeter.

Though enterprise Wi-Fi technology is mature enough, there are still some security issues that need to be addressed. Not everyone is happy with wireless signals leaving the company premises. Not that WPA2 encryption can be hacked, but there might always be some loopholes. Some legacy laptops/guest laptops connecting to the network may not use the latest encryption or may not use encryption at all! Some users might leave their Wi-Fi adapters enabled with ad-hoc networking. Some users might bring unauthorized access points. Some users might be tricked into joining an external network controlled by hackers.

If not security, there is always the problem of wireless signal interference that results in less efficient wireless networks. It is quite obvious that Wi-Fi, as a technology, has some limitations when compared to wired networks.

Companies have installed wireless intrusion detection/prevention systems or have a no-wireless policy to work around many issues posed by wireless networks. But why is this problem always tackled electronically? Can there be a physical alternative to blocking wireless signals from leaving your premises?

That’s exactly what a new Wi-Fi blocking wallpaper technology proposed by Polytechnic Institute Grenoble Institute of Technology hopes to address. These Wi-Fi blocking wallpapers are not yet available commercially, but their capability seems to have been tested and approved for commercial manufacturing.

Even though one might stick wallpapers on the walls, there are still windows, floors and ceilings that need to be addressed? Wi-Fi signals can very much penetrate through these things. Other issues are cost, availability and design/aesthetics. Not all companies might want to stick a wallpaper across all their walls.

That said, there are many companies that require Wi-Fi signals only in certain places, like their conference rooms. Wi-Fi is practically disallowed in all other places, even within the company. These companies have tried to lower the signal strength to keep the Wi-Fi signal from going out of their conference rooms. As you might have guessed, that’s not a practical solution! They might find the Wi-Fi blocking wallpaper technology quite useful. Of course, sensitive areas like defense research, R&D, law-enforcement, etc. may also be pleased to have a wallpaper based Wi-Fi blocker.

Do you think blocking Wi-Fi signals selectively through a wallpaper (while still allowing GSM/CDMA mobile signals) is a good idea? Or is the existing security/central management available with wireless controllers sufficient?

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