London wireless insecurity unveiled

Posted On 06 Apr 2014
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Security expert James Lyne set off with his computer-equipped bicycle onto the streets of London recently to test how safe homes, businesses, and even people on mobiles phones are from cyber criminals. The empirical research showed that the state of wireless security in the UK’s capital leaves a lot to be desired. James, Global Head of Security Research at Sophos, went ‘warbiking’ across the city to track down unsecure wireless networks and spotlight user behaviours that could be exploited by rogue hackers, and he discovered some alarming results. ” Incredibly, conventional wireless network security is still a major concern, despite the security industry assuming such issues had been resolved years ago. Many would assume these methods are ‘old hat’ but it is still a very viable attack vector that demonstrates basic security best practice is not being adopted,” says James.” As our London Warbiking exercise found, there are an astonishing number of businesses and home users employing insecure, poorly implemented, or even defunct wireless security protocols. With our voracious hunger to be online at all times, this is leaving millions of people, companies and their valuable data open to attack.” Conducted over two days around the streets of the capital, James’s warbiking exercise revealed that of 81,743 networks surveyed, some 29.5 percent were using either the known-broken Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) algorithm, or no security encryption at all. A further 52 percent of networks were using Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) – a no longer recommended security algorithm. James warns,” Even within the security industry there are myths and misunderstanding about what the real risks are with wireless. Many argue that the unencrypted, intentionally open networks (the majority of the 29.5 per cent) are ‘OK’ as they use a captive portal to register users. Unfortunately the standard user doesn’t recognise that major brand XYZ wireless is not encrypted and that their information can be picked up by anyone with

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.