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Sydney wallows in cesspit of WiFi obsolescence and ignorance

World of Warbiking WiFi sniffing peloton finds lots of unsecured connections

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Sophos has brought its Raspberry-Pi-powered World of Warbiking WiFi-sniffing peloton to Sydney and found, as it does everywhere around the world, that some people just can't be bothered with WiFi security.

The Word of Warbiking sees Sophos' head of security research James Lynbe strap a Pi and various WiFi cards to his bicycle and then tour a city to get a feel for which versions of encryption are used by resident WiFi networks. In London, the penetrative peloton found 29.5 per cent were using either the dud Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) algorithm, or nothing.

Sydney fared a little better, with just 3.98 per cent running WEP and 23.85 running naked. Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA 2) was the most prevalent protocol, with 44.02 per cent of the 34.476 networks found along a 4.2 km route running through the central business district, over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then through the posh urban enclave of Kirribilli.

Lyne opined, in a lamentably bacon-free post-ride briefing, that Sydney's results and those from around the world come about because some people fall through the cracks despite the security industry's ongoing attempts to scare their pants offeducate them about best practice. That's unhelpful, he said, because it means there's always someone out there running old and/or insecure kit that bad guys can exploit.

Happily, he went nowhere near the usual “Narco-terrorist money launderers are rummaging about in your bank's mainframe over WiFi, now” alarmism. Instead, he pointed out that the a good many people either read email or conduct online banking while using insecure WiFi connections, which presents all manner of opportunity for those who would seek to observe and take advantage of their behaviour.

Sophos' peloton has, to date, visited London, Hanoi, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Results from all cities are quite similar: there's a fair bit of WEP around the world, less WPA-2 and HTTPs than is sensible and a lot of people who either don't care or don't know to care about doing better. ®

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