Disabling DS Lite Wifi?
January 29, 2012 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way to disable the wifi on a Nintendo DS Lite semi-permanently?

I work in a hospital and for safety and privacy reasons our patients are not allowed to use the internet without supervision. Some patients own the Nintendo DS Lite and have in parts of the building been able to access a nearby hotspot. According to administrators, this is a problem.

Is there a way (similar to parental controls) that the wifi can be disabled that a person could not re-enable it easily? My google skills have failed me!
posted by gilsonal to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Nintendo DS and the DS Lite has no parental controls for wi-fi access. Wi-fi is accessed via a multi-player game cartridge or the DS Browser (game cartridge). The Nintendo DSi, DSi XL, and 3DS do have parental controls. Parents should be able to disable wi-fi access on these portable gaming devices.

Nintendo instructs how to block internet use for the DSi (or DSi XL) and 3DS using parental control settings.
posted by plokent at 8:05 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Disclaimer: The company I work for provides Wi-Fi to many customers, including Healthcare providers.

It sounds to me like the solution you want isn't in the devices but rather in network configuration. Consumer grade devices (like an Apple Airport) can separate a guest network from a home network via different SSIDs, either broadcast or non-broadcast. Professional (or managed) Wi-Fi gear can let you have far greater control over which users or devices have access to what resources.
posted by Mad_Carew at 9:23 PM on January 29, 2012

gilsonal: "Some patients own the Nintendo DS Lite"

If you're asking how you could get your hands on a patient's personally owned Nintendo DS and disable the wifi, well, that would be wrong. Especially if it couldn't be easily undone when they got home. (Would you be showing the parents how to reverse the behavior?)

This would need to be done from the network side. Your hospital's inability to prevent a device from accessing its private wifi is not a patient's problem, and shouldn't be solved on that side.

Has your hospital considered offering a separate public wifi that is not connected with any private/secure information for anyone to use?
posted by IndigoRain at 12:09 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

It seems like the problem is two parts:
- Public (non-hospital) wifi with no password.
- Patient-owned wifi-enabled devices (DSs).

Possible solutions:
- Remove hotspot (unlikely since presumably not hospital owned).
- Ask hotspot provider to add password (maybe ask if they can have a password up on a sign, e.g. like some coffee shops do, but still unlikely if it's not under hospital control).
- Disable wifi on the DSs (possible solution for some DS models as above, but only if the patients are kids and you can get their parents to set them up correctly).
- Forbid wifi-enabled devices (probably the easiest solution but has its downsides).
- Some kind of wifi-jamming device (no idea if this is feasible, but seems like a bad idea in a hospital in any case, for a number of reasons).

Seems like adding a password to the hotspot would be the easiest solution but that depends on who controls it, and if they are not part of the hospital, how sympathetic/helpful they are.

Hmmm. How about the hospital buys a bunch of DSs with parental controls (see plokent's comment) for patients to use? Then you can prevent internet access and ban patient-owned DSs but still provide your own DSs to use.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:00 AM on January 30, 2012

I'm absolutely baffled by the fact that your hospital's IT is perfectly fine with having completely open wifi for their network. I don't know if you're in the US, but this could be a major HIPAA violation. Your network admins need to lock down the network NOW.
posted by kuanes at 4:31 AM on January 30, 2012

Kuanes: i assumed it was not a hospital wifi network that was the problem, rather it was a network in a nearby coffee shop or something.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:34 AM on January 30, 2012

Is there a way (similar to parental controls) that the wifi can be disabled that a person could not re-enable it easily?

The answer here is no, at least from a technology perspective -- you do not own the client devices OR the network (the non-hospital open wifi hotspot). Wifi jamming is not legal, so you won't be able to go that route without (a) throwing out weird, non-FCC regulated signals, and (b) getting yourself into potential legal hot water.

I'd suggest chatting with the local hotspot owner, explaining the problem, and trying to find an equitable solution. If it's a coffee shop, perhaps they can hand out password cards with coffee? If it's a private residence, perhaps you can help to secure their network, explaining their exposure via the hospital?
posted by ellF at 4:42 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I made the same assumption that Kuanes did: that the wi-fi was broadcast under the control of the hospital. If your patients are picking up outside Wi-Fi on their privately owned devices, than you are dealing with Unregulated Spectrum and there's not much you can do, other than trying to persuade the other party to move or secure their hotspot.

The option I haven't seen above is to get some kind of RF shielding on your building. It's probably not a good solution, but it's a solution. It's not unheard of, but would generally mean that ANY RF using device would be unable to communicate out of or into the building, including pagers, cell phones, and emergency worker's radios. That might have unintended consequences.

You might want to consider making free Wi-Fi available throughout the hospital, to encourage patients to go through your controlled access, which you can firewall as needed.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:59 AM on January 30, 2012

While disabling the wifi for the DS Lite, the DS Lite cannot connect to networks that are protected with a WPA password. That might be a possible solution if you don't want patients to use wifi.
posted by QueenHawkeye at 9:27 AM on January 30, 2012

Response by poster: The other network is an adjoining hospitals public network. Patients guardians have disallowed wifi access without supervision and it is my understanding that the hospital has to comply. We are trying to allow the patients to use their own materials, which otherwise their legal guardian could stipulate we must not let them use. It sounds like this is a problem for the IT department to settle though, not an intern. Thanks for the feedback!
posted by gilsonal at 3:19 PM on January 30, 2012

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