http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1892000/1892510.stm Tuesday, 26 March, 2002 Almost all the wireless networks in London are vulnerable to attack. A comprehensive seven-month audit found that 92% of the 5,000 wireless networks in the capital have not taken basic steps to protect themselves against casual attacks. The survey, sponsored by the International Chamber of Commerce, used some novel software tools that can spot networks many other networking sniffing tools miss. Many of the networks readily hand out internet connections to anyone that connects to them and almost all pass around confidential information in an easy to interpret form. Site seizing The survey shows just how popular wireless networks have become in only a few short years, and the risks companies are taking with sensitive information. "It's the old story where you have convenience that has taken over prudence" said Pottengal Mukundan, director of the ICC's crime-fighting division. Previous audits of the wireless networks in London have tended to concentrate on one area, such as Docklands or the City, and the networks found have numbered in the tens rather than hundreds. But Simon Gunning of technology security firm Digilog has found that the capital is home to more than 5,000 wireless networks that are being used in offices, government buildings, prisons, police stations and even at the Palace of Westminster. "I really didn't expect to find so many," he said. He found them thanks to a software tool, freely available on the internet, that can spot wireless network access points that try to hide by turning off their ability to broadcast their presence. Mr Gunning carried out the survey by driving around London in a car carrying a laptop fitted with the network-spotting software. Networks exposed Although wireless networks do have some basic security features built-in, the vast majority of networks found during this latest survey had not turned them on. Even the few that had turned on the basic encryption system were using default settings, making it easy for an attacker to guess the key needed to unscramble data. As a result, anyone gathering up packets of data from these networks would be able to read the text within them easily, said Mr Gunning. Those not interested in stealing data could piggyback on the fast net connection linked to the wireless network. Now "war-driving" as it has become known is a popular pastime with many curious computer enthusiasts. Mr Gunning said many people are experimenting with long-range antenna that let them pick up signals from many kilometres away. Security company i-sec has shown how an antenna made from an old can of Pringles crisps can help pinpoint networks. - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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