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Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 111896 19-Nov-2012 09:39 Send private message

The school I work at has finally got UFB and so now we are looking at putting wireless through the school so students can access internet through personal devices (tablets, smart phones and laptops).  We have four common areas plus an arts and dance area where we would want access to wifi (a total of 6 areas).

We don't need any security as we go through watchdog and we are far enough from any business/homes that they are unlikely to be able to connect (and even if they do the school is not concerned about bandwidth).

I have been told from the IT guy that New Era is quoting $3000 per access point.

My question is couldn't we just put a good quality wireless router in each area ($100-$200) each, it is unlikely that we would have more than 20 students access via an access point at any one time.  If this works we could start extending it into some of the classrooms and for the price of one access point from New Era we could have most of the school connected.

Thoughts?

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 719318 19-Nov-2012 09:44 Send private message

Not worried about security or bandwidth? You might rethink that when you see a bunch of cars sitting outside your school with little aerials pointing your way!

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  Reply # 719319 19-Nov-2012 09:45 Send private message

Lol what is so special about their access points? Look at UniFi which are less than $200 each and can be centrally managed. If you have the cabling and managed switches already you can put it on a seperate subnet firewalled from your main, managed IT environment.





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  Reply # 719320 19-Nov-2012 09:47 Send private message

"We don't need any security" is your first big issue.

You cannot build/acquire/install anything even remotely suitable for a school until you learn and understand the importance of security.





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  Reply # 719327 19-Nov-2012 09:51 Send private message

Asking for commercial advice on a forum full of consumers is a bad idea, imho.

That $3,000 probably includes the cost of support (if it blows up and starts smoking), firmware updates, remote management and monitoring. Plus anyone doing a decent wifi install these days does a proper site survey to ensure the right antennas are used, the right channels are chosen etc.

My point is, that $3000 is probably $500 for the hardware and $2500 to take all the other pain and support hassles away. Maybe you don't want that and that's fine, but make sure you're comparing apples for apples on that $ figure.

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  Reply # 719342 19-Nov-2012 10:04 Send private message

I don't want to knock you but mentioning the word "router" when you're really after an access point, and not thinking security is important will shows a lack of understanding of what you're really after.

How are you planning on isolating WLAN traffic? How about isolation from wired PC's on the network to stop kids hacking your server? How will staff access the server - different VLAN's? What will you use for user authentication to stop kids simply turning up on the weekend to get free internet? How will you track usage? How are you going to manage multiple devices that offer no centralised management - log into every device manually when you want to change the password?

Deploying a scalable WiFi solution isn't quite as simple as buying a couple of AP's and plugging them in.



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  Reply # 719353 19-Nov-2012 10:16 Send private message

First off, I would just like to say I am just a science teacher that has a keen interest in IT.  Our IT guy is a pretty much by the books kind of guy and so nothing really happens.  When I demonstrated what my little router from home was able to do, I use it in my classroom he became interested, but unless he is pushed nothing will happen. 

I am on good terms with one of the DPs and have a discretionary fund which can be used for my little pet projects (xbox controllers for google earth, raspberry pis, moodle etc).  If I can demonstrate that a $100-200 device works we would get more interest from up high 

We really want to just get the wifi up so students can access the internet and the new moodle site, being able to google search in the class would be great as a lot of students don't have internet at home

When I say not really worried about security I mean if it did become a problem we would add encryption, but as the buildings are quite far from the school boundaries and going through watchdog, blocks pretty much all torrent/porn/illegal/proxy sites, we would like to provide open access (to the internet not the network)



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 719358 19-Nov-2012 10:25 Send private message

sbiddle: I don't want to knock you but mentioning the word "router" when you're really after an access point, and not thinking security is important will shows a lack of understanding of what you're really after.

How are you planning on isolating WLAN traffic? How about isolation from wired PC's on the network to stop kids hacking your server? How will staff access the server - different VLAN's? What will you use for user authentication to stop kids simply turning up on the weekend to get free internet? How will you track usage? How are you going to manage multiple devices that offer no centralised management - log into every device manually when you want to change the password?

Deploying a scalable WiFi solution isn't quite as simple as buying a couple of AP's and plugging them in.


I understand what you are saying. 

what we want
Quite simply we only want access to the internet, not the network or student drives.  For teachers we all have laptops with wired connections. 

We don't care if students show up on the weekends for free internet, the sites they want are mainly blocked (facebook, twitter, torrent, web streaming) (yeah I know they can get around the blocks).  If it became a problem we could simply but the access points on timers

There would only be six devices which would be in secure locations.

Our usage is monitored through watchdog


I used the term router because there are a number of cheap wirless routers which can also be used as access points (but I do understand the difference)

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  Reply # 719360 19-Nov-2012 10:26 Send private message

Once again I don't want to knock you or your ideas but my job involves deploying a lot of large scale WiFi networks and I've done a number of schools in recent months. My only piece of simple advice to to forget what ideas you have an start looking at other deployments to get an idea of what you should be doing.

What you are proposing is quite simply building another Titanic that is an insecure recipe for disaster.

There are plenty of low cost options around that will cost waaaaaaay less than $3000 per AP, but deploying something using cheap consumer grade hardware and without adequate security is just a bad idea.


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  Reply # 719361 19-Nov-2012 10:34 Send private message

The first thing to think in this whole project *IS* security.

An unsecure network means people will be able to connect to it. Don't think distance will be a problem. It also means people will be able to see the fraffic in the network, collect it, analyse it.

This means all your kids going on Facebook or something similar will have their data harvested. All their logins to web sites (those that are not secure) will be harvested.

Doing this you will be creating a nightmare. People using the network won't know anything is happening, and might not know for years to come. But it is happening.






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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 719373 19-Nov-2012 10:44 Send private message

The main reason we were thinking of going securityless was even if we did encrypt it we would have to provide 800 students with the password, which would mean the password would stay within the school for about 2 minutes.  We could change the password term/monthly/weekly but it wouldn't remain secure for long.

How would it be different from cafes and libraries with public access? 

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  Reply # 719375 19-Nov-2012 10:47 Send private message

Yup, I can just see the media response now "School hands out students personal data to hackers!" or "After hackers steal confidential data teacher quoted as saying that security wasn't important".

I don't think the principal or board of trustees would be all that impressed when they discovered that you had been warned to take security seriously...

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  Reply # 719376 19-Nov-2012 10:48 Send private message

blackjack17: The main reason we were thinking of going securityless was even if we did encrypt it we would have to provide 800 students with the password, which would mean the password would stay within the school for about 2 minutes.  We could change the password term/monthly/weekly but it wouldn't remain secure for long.

How would it be different from cafes and libraries with public access? 


Commercial solutions have ways to solve these problems :)  That's why they cost what they do.



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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 719388 19-Nov-2012 10:58 Send private message

As the access points would be based in the common rooms (in the deans offices), is there anything wrong with assigning a daily or weekly password and putting it up on the notice board?

I assumed that places with free wifi like libraries and airports didn't have wifi security.  If I am access freewifi (where I haven't gone through a portal) can that data be harvested?

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  Reply # 719399 19-Nov-2012 11:11 Send private message

blackjack17: As the access points would be based in the common rooms (in the deans offices), is there anything wrong with assigning a daily or weekly password and putting it up on the notice board?

I assumed that places with free wifi like libraries and airports didn't have wifi security.  If I am access freewifi (where I haven't gone through a portal) can that data be harvested?


Any good public WiFi setup has full L2 and L3 isolation to prevent traffic sniffing.

gzt

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  Reply # 719412 19-Nov-2012 11:35 Send private message

blackjack17: I have been told from the IT guy that New Era is quoting $3000 per access point.


To state the obvious - quotes can be complex and are often a starting point for discussions around actual requirements and may include extending or upgrading the existing infrastructure behind the access points.

You need to know exactly what you are getting if it is good value or not - and it is probably not just hardware.


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