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London consumers trounce corporates in wireless security

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London homeowners are more careful about defending their wireless networks against trespassers than their corporate counterparts. One in five business networks fail to use any form of wireless encryption while 90 per cent of Londoners use encryption of some kind at home.

RSA's seventh annual wireless security survey also found the wireless penetration at home was far more advanced than in either New York City or Paris, with 55 per cent of all access points detected during the survey associated with home networks.

London kept its position as the ‘most wireless city’, with 12,276 access points logged - more than 3,000 more than New York.

But before Londoners get too smug, they may want to reflect on the finding that 75 per cent of domestic wireless network in Paris use superior WPA encryption compared to 48 per cent in London. A significant minority of Londoners use older WEP encryption, which has proved vulnerable to attack. In New York, 61 per cent of home users were using advanced wireless encryption, compared to just one in two business wireless networks in the Big Apple.

"Such is the speed at which WEP can be routinely cracked that it barely constitutes paper-thin protection in the face of today’s sophisticated hackers," said Sam Curry, veep of identity and access assurance at RSA. "We would strongly urge wireless network administrators to discount WEP as a viable security mechanism and upgrade to WPA – or stronger – without delay.

"It is also critical that business access points are protected by encryption – even if the corporate network itself can only be accessed via an encrypted VPN."

The survey was carried out by a team of independent security consultants using a laptop computer and commercial scanning software. After wireless devices were detected the software logged the channel, extended service set identifier (ESSID) and whether encryption was used before moving onto the next source. More data on the survey can be found here. ®

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