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Consumers urged to step up wireless security

Treat Wi-Fi like toothbrushes, urges alliance

Reducing security risks from open source software

Consumers are once again being urged to use the latest (WPA2) encryption technology and apply strong passwords to protect home networks from snooping and other attacks.

The call comes in a survey by industry trade body the Wi-Fi Alliance, which warned on Wednesday that "borrowing" access to unprotected Wi-Fi access is still commonplace. A poll by the Wi-Fi Alliance, conducted by Wakefield Research, found that one-third (32 per cent) of respondents said they had attempted to get onto Wi-Fi network that wasn't theirs – well up from the 18 per cent recorded in an equivalent a December 2008 poll.

By contrast, two in five (40 per cent) of respondents said they would be more likely to trust someone with their house key than with their Wi-Fi network password. Sharing a Wi-Fi password was more personal than sharing a toothbrush, according to a quarter. Wi-Fi Alliance execs compared good password security on wireless networks to car safety measures most people have taken for granted for years.

"Most consumers know that leaving their Wi-Fi network open is not a good thing, but the reality is that many have not taken the steps to protect themselves," said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director for the Wi-Fi Alliance. "Consumers can usually activate Wi-Fi security protections in a few simple steps, but much like the seatbelts in your car, it won't protect you unless you use it." ®

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