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    LiFi for privacy and security in shared office spaces

     

    July 9, 2020

     

    From shared-space entrepreneurs to global corporations, data privacy and network security are huge concerns. Can LiFi be the answer? 

     

    Coworking spaces and startups seem to have the market cornered on cool office environments and great vibes. A repurposed factory building in a beautiful gentrified part of town; everything managed to the last detail: arty furniture, great lighting, and the best barista in the city.

     

    The most successful places create a community for their ‘coworkers’. This community is about sharing experiences, brainstorming, collaborating, and learning from each other. And these work environments are ideal for co-creation; they can be where the new Googles, Apples, and Amazons take flight.

    Let’s face it: in the months (and maybe years) to come, having everybody gathered in one big office space is probably no longer the best solution"

    Although these locations have been shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic, they may be part of a future solution, both for the freelancers who typically inhabit them, as well as for the larger corporations who were already moving in this direction before COVID-19.

     

    Instead of keeping their remote workers at home, or in a local coffee house or hotel, businesses can leverage these coworking environments so their employees have the benefit of a real desk, a real workspace and interaction with others.

     

    Because, let’s face it: in the months (and maybe years) to come, having everybody gathered in one big office space is probably no longer the best solution. With coworking companies updating their spaces for safety, long and potentially hazardous commutes in trains or buses can be avoided.

    LiFi shared office spaces working

    The downsides of sharing

     

    Why aren’t more big corporations embracing this arrangement? One concern is data security. Some big players have found their way with VLAN and VPN solutions, but an airtight solution isn’t there yet. Make no mistake about it, data security is a big problem.

     

    In fact, IBM estimates that the average cost of a data breach in 2019 was be around US $3.92 million. Last year, a total of 7.9 billion records were exposed, up 33% on 2018. 

    IBM estimates that the average cost of a data breach in 2019 was around US $3.92 million"

    So big corporations need to be worried about the ‘pineapples’ and other tricks used by hackers.  More and more companies have strict rules about the use of public networks and the use of VPNs. But the latter often require a personal action from the user, and haven’t we all quickly downloaded a file at the airport or conference center because it was essential?

    As long as data security involves human interaction there will be risks. And when you make it too difficult for the average user, you increase the likelihood of them finding a different way.

    I think this is one of the reasons why many corporates aren’t in favor of having their people work in coworking spaces. Because they feel uncontrolled. So, how can we help the coworking space to be more attractive for companies?

    LiFi meeting room

    The upside of LiFi

    In the last few years I’ve been involved in the development of LiFi technology. It’s demonstrated its utility in relieving pressure on the radio spectrum, and is already being taken up on buses, trains and planes.

     

    What hasn’t received as much attention so far though, is how it can address this security issue. LiFi is essentially comparable to WiFi, except for one thing: LiFi uses (infrared) light to communicate instead of radio waves. The coverage zone of LiFi is therefore more easily defined and the access (by using USB access keys) can be better regulated.

     

    You can therefore create distinct bubbles of security, inaccessible to anybody else. With unique 128-bit encryption it’s like creating a digital Fort Knox. Or maybe even better – because you can’t even see the fortress.

     

    Unlike VLANs and other measures, LiFi can easily be added to the existing infrastructure. And more can be done. With an end-to-end service we can really create a separate environment with LiFi, where, even within a coverage zone, users can’t (virtually) see or interact with each other. This technology is available now and can be implemented in any coworking space around the world.

    Light waves are much more stable, they don’t suffer from interference and are therefore much more comfortable to work with. And with speeds up to 200 Mbps… well, let those big files come"

    The USB access key is often seen as a downside for LiFi. From this perspective, I consider it to be a big plus. It presents a physical barrier to enter the network, which comes on top of security measures and along with a couple of other unique characteristics.

     

    Light waves are much more stable, they don’t suffer from interference and are therefore much more comfortable to work with. And with speeds up to 200 Mbps… well, let those big files come.

     

    How will coworking spaces develop in the coming years? I do believe in them and as big innovative companies realize the benefits of flexible workspaces – especially with secure internet alternatives such as LiFi, they might become the new normal.

     

    Contact us for more info at lifi.systems@signify.com

    Trulifi video

    About the author:

    Ed Huibers


    Ed Huibers

    Go-to market leader, Office and Hospitality, Signify

    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Integrated Communications
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17
    Email: neil.pattie@signify.com

    About Signify

     

    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact connected lighting systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. With 2019 sales of EUR 6.2 billion, we have approximately 36,000 employees and are present in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We have been named Industry Leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for three years in a row. News from Signify is located at the Newsroom, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors can be found on the Investor Relations page.

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