Feeds

Study: Wi-Fi users still don't encrypt

Silly Billies

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Think you've heard more than enough about war driving and Wi-Fi insecurity? Two days of electronic eavesdropping at the 802.11 Planet Expo in Boston last week sniffed out more evidence that most Wi-Fi users still aren't getting the message -- or are comfortable broadcasting their e-mail into the ether.

Security vendor AirDefense set up two of its commercial "AirDefense Guard" sensors at opposite corners of the exhibit hall at the Boston World Trade Center, the site of the conference, and for two days analyzed the traffic flowing between conference-goers and 141 unencrypted access points set up by the conference for public use, and by vendors on the floor.

What they found was that users checking their e-mail through unencrypted POP connections vastly outnumbered those using a VPN or another encrypted tunnel. Only three percent of e-mail downloads were encrypted on the first day of the conference, 12 percent on the second day. (The company says it counted all VPN or tunneled traffic as e-mail).

That means the other 88% could easily be intercepted by eavesdroppers using commonly-available tools, compromising both the e-mail and the user's passwords.

Additionally, 84 out of the 523 users monitored were configured to allow ad hoc networking, and 74 were configured to automatically connect to the access point with the strongest signal strength -- a default mode that could leave a laptop prey to a rogue access point.

And then there was the hacking. Passive eavesdropping is undetectable, but AirDefense picked-up 149 active scans from war driving tools like Netstumbler, 105 denial-of-service attacks, eight probes for known exploits against access points, and thirty-two attempted man-in-the-middle attacks -- three of the successful.

"People were probably having a little fun, but I'm not sure it was all malicious," says AirDefense's Brian Moran. "The real shocking part was how many people attached to their corporate e-mails without any kind of encryption."

Wi-Fi eavesdropping for any purpose is usually frowned upon in legal circles, but AirDefense was a sponsor and the "official security provider" at the conference, and Moran say the company provided attendees with ample notice of the study. "There were huge signs throughout the place saying AirDefense is monitoring all conference traffic."

© SecurityFocus

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
Surprise: if you work from home you need the Internet
Buffer-rage sends Aussies out to experience road rage
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
MOST iPhone strokers SPURN iOS 8: iOS 7 'un-updatening' in 5...4...
Guess they don't like our battery-draining update?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.