WiFi Access

Discussions about Internet service providers (ISPs), the Meetinghouse Firewall, wired and wireless networking, usage, management, and support of Meetinghouse Internet
kylejhunt
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WiFi Access

Postby kylejhunt » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:31 pm

I'm having issues understanding why the WiFi at our church buildings needs to be password protected. By doing so aren't we blocking access from some of the people who are paying for it? Our firewall does a great job of blocking most sites (too good if you ask me, but that's another topic for another time), so I find it hard to believe that anyone would be using the WiFi for anything other than church related activities. I spend a fair amount of my Sunday helping classes get access to mormon.org videos and other online materials, and if the WiFi was unprotected this wouldn't be a problem for me or them.

I know part of this is a rant, but I think there's a valid argument in my position. Thoughts?

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:39 pm

kylejhunt wrote:I'm having issues understanding why the WiFi at our church buildings needs to be password protected. By doing so aren't we blocking access from some of the people who are paying for it? Our firewall does a great job of blocking most sites (too good if you ask me, but that's another topic for another time), so I find it hard to believe that anyone would be using the WiFi for anything other than church related activities. I spend a fair amount of my Sunday helping classes get access to mormon.org videos and other online materials, and if the WiFi was unprotected this wouldn't be a problem for me or them.

I know part of this is a rant, but I think there's a valid argument in my position. Thoughts?


I've seen plenty of people in Church buildings (and even in sacrament meeting) checking personal email, playing online games, and doing a variety of activities that are not relevant to actual Church service. Those people are using their cell phone networks to access the Internet, so it's not an issue of the building's WiFi network, but if WiFi were wide open, I can guarantee that some of those activities would be going on using WiFi.

But in any case, the Church has already announced its direction for wireless access in meetinghouses: it is to allow members to connect to the wireless network using their LDS Account, which will provide security and accountability. See the article Wireless Internet Access in Meetinghouses.
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jdlessley
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Postby jdlessley » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:17 pm

kylejhunt wrote:I'm having issues understanding why the WiFi at our church buildings needs to be password protected.

Meetinghouse Internet access, while available for non-personal membership use, must be protected from unauthorized access. While you may find it hard to believe that anyone would be using that Internet access for other than for church related activities, it does happen. As a former STS I spent a bit of time investigating instances of inappropriate access. Not all members use that access as the Church would intend. And there are those who would use it in a manner that does not adhere to Church standards.

The wireless signal extends well beyond the physical walls of the meetinghouse. This places the Internet access literally out on the street for anyone to use if access is not restricted. Without restricting access then the network would be open to anyone driving by or in the neighborhood to do as they please. This would be a wide open door for those with less than honorable intentions to include accessing any administrative computers on the network. The same applies to your home wireless. Would you want anyone near your home gaining access to your home network through the wireless because it was not secured and making it possible for them to gain access to everything on your computer and hogging your Internet bandwidth?

Restricting access does impose an inconvenience that is necessary.

kylejhunt wrote:I spend a fair amount of my Sunday helping classes get access to mormon.org videos and other online materials, and if the WiFi was unprotected this wouldn't be a problem for me or them.
And it wouldn't be a problem for someone on the street to gain access to the network and wreck havoc not to mention stealing Internet access.

The inconvenience imposed by securing the wireless will become a little less inconvenient once LDS Account is used for access to the wireless. This will allow members with an account access while maintaining security of the system. LDS Account access to meetinghouse wireless is coming in early 2012. I can't confirm any time schedule but have heard it is expected sometime in the first quarter.
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Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

kylejhunt
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Postby kylejhunt » Fri Dec 09, 2011 5:53 pm

Thanks for the responses. Since posting initially I have been doing some research and found the wifi access by LDS Account mentions. I think that's a great idea and a step in the right direction, but like most church decisions in regards to tech it's a little late.

JD, if anyone is going to steal wifi, they're not going to do it on a church network....it blocks everything! I know there are bad people out there, but I believe that those bad people won't borrow our church wifi to browse the church approved sites....and if they do that sounds like a win for us! Even if there is no passcode, if I can't go to ESPN or any of my other usual sites, it's of no value to me. And there are schedules in most routers so abuse during evening/night hours could be eliminated entirely.

Mr Brown, the issue w/ your argument is similar to above. People browsing on cellular networks are most likely browsing sites that are not accessible on the church WiFi. I'm an active member and a huge sports fan. When my kids permit I check scores on my phone while at church on my phone/iPad. If I'm tethered to the WiFi I cannot view the pages I like to check scores, so even though I know the passcode I rarely use it.

I get your positions, I just don't agree w/ them and am looking for something other than the positions you've presented to consider. I understand that there has to be controls in place, but it seems like our current controls are restricting the members more than anyone else. Maybe it's as simple as making the SSID and passcode more accessible to the members in our ward building.

Thank you both.

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Postby russellhltn » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:42 pm

kylejhunt wrote:Maybe it's as simple as making the SSID and passcode more accessible to the members in our ward building.


That's up to the Stake President.
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crislapi
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Postby crislapi » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:22 pm

Leaving a wireless connection unprotected is just plain stupid. You wouldn't do it for your wireless network at home so why do it for a network at church? Every computer in the building is connected to that network. I'm not worried about your laptop or smartphone, but I am worried about the clerk computers.

It sounds like the bigger issue is that your stake does not distribute the passcode to everyone. As mentioned, that's the stake president's call, but for perspective, there are two large institute buildings in my area that are also used on Sundays for church. They have big signs on the wall stating the SSID and passcode. Granted, this is a different environment, but it is still the same setup as that used in meetinghouses.

One final thought - there are a finite number of connections available. I remember this recent post saying that it was 50, but I cannot confirm that. If everyone is accessing the network at the same time, you won't be able to get the Sunday School teachers on the network to show the videos anyway. Again, that is a technological limitation that can be fixed with additional equipment, but that is the current state as I understand it.

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Postby jdlessley » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:44 pm

kylejhunt wrote:Thanks for the responses. Since posting initially I have been doing some research and found the wifi access by LDS Account mentions. I think that's a great idea and a step in the right direction, but like most church decisions in regards to tech it's a little late.
Sorry you feel that way. The Church is not a leader in developing technologies, with few exceptions. That is not their purpose. Instead, as technology demonstrates usefulness in furthering the purposes of the Church it is adopted and modified, if necessary, to fit the Church's need.

One would have to know the history of the development of the meetinghouse Internet program to have a full appreciation of what is now available. Where the meetinghouse Internet is now is by no means perfect. It takes time to uncover issues, find solutions, and deploy enhancements. Without feedback from the community some of the issues would go unnoticed and unresolved. I am personally thankful that we can contribute and that the programs we have are there at all. I don't see how an enhancement such as using LDS Account for accessing the Internet is a little late in any manner. It takes time to develop and implement/deploy something like this that will work in every meetinghouse in every country.

I think it is great that we do not have to continue to live without Internet access in the meetinghouse and that the brethren feel it appropriate to provide Internet access capabilities to the general membership even with the limitations and issues that arrise.

kylejhunt wrote:Even if there is no passcode, if I can't go to ESPN or any of my other usual sites, it's of no value to me.
Some people's usual sites are not in keeping with Church standards. Filtering those sites is necessary to keep the use of the Church provided Internet access appropriate. While there is concern about what sites are not accessible, the Church will continue to use filtering as long as the brethren feel that is the solution to limit inappropriate use of a Church provided service.

kylejhunt wrote:And there are schedules in most routers so abuse during evening/night hours could be eliminated entirely.
This works great in a home environment. But to manage all the possible needs of a worldwide church is not as simple as that. Limiting access hours only addresses one aspect of appropriate Internet access. What is accessed is more important than when the Internet is accessed.

kylejhunt wrote:I understand that there has to be controls in place, but it seems like our current controls are restricting the members more than anyone else.
The Church is not like anyone else. This is not just a reference to the spiritual principle. Even in a corporate environment I cannot come up with any other entity that is as unique as the Church. Deploying a system worldwide has immensely unique issues. Maintaining a standard while providing a service comes with inherent limitations.

kylejhunt wrote:Maybe it's as simple as making the SSID and passcode more accessible to the members in our ward building.
Just as RussellHltn stated, the stake president has the authority to do just this. He has the responsibility for implementing Internet access guidelines within the stake.
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:52 pm

jdlessley wrote:Just as RussellHltn stated, the stake president has the authority to do just this. He has the responsibility for implementing Internet access guidelines within the stake.


Depending on the firewall, he may be able to set the filtering level as well.

I find it interesting that so far no examples have been presented that prevents the network from being used for church purposes.
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

bradhokanson
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Postby bradhokanson » Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:03 pm

crislapi wrote:One final thought - there are a finite number of connections available. I remember this recent post saying that it was 50, but I cannot confirm that. If everyone is accessing the network at the same time, you won't be able to get the Sunday School teachers on the network to show the videos anyway. Again, that is a technological limitation that can be fixed with additional equipment, but that is the current state as I understand it.


Most of the new installs are a /25 or /26 so they have a bit more than 50. Additional User Zones can be created by calling GSD but really if you are getting into that many hosts, at 881w isn't going to hold up under that load.

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Postby rbeede » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:40 pm

In addition allowing anyone (members or not) to use the network would subject the Church to law suits from anyone using p2p software to download illegally. Firewalls can't block every address and many p2p applications get around blocking these days by using encryption and common ports like 443.

The cost of defending in a law suit would be wasteful of church funds.


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