Scottish WLans leave themselves wide open

A survey of wireless networks in Scotland's leading commercial areas has revealed alarming security gaps that leave almost half...

A survey of wireless networks in Scotland's leading commercial areas has revealed alarming security gaps that leave almost half the wireless-enabled businesses in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow open to attack.

Redstone Communications carried out the "drive-by" surveys of almost 800 wireless Lans in the business districts of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh using simple, low-cost tools.

The survey simulated "wardriver" attacks from a car to establish the extent of wireless Lan deployment and security.

In all three cities the survey found that almost half the wireless Lans had no encryption system to protect data in transit, even though these systems are supplied with built-in security as standard.

Findings were consistent in all three cities, with 48% of networks in Edinburgh, 49% in Glasgow and 50% in Aberdeen being unencrypted.

Using a simple wireless audit tool and network card, the researchers identified a signal, registered the wireless network profile and identified the location, channel, source and the station identification used. The researchers also determined whether or not a wireless Lan was utilising WEP encryption. 

Rob Bruce, product development director at Redstone, said, “Despite the well-publicised need for stringent security measures to protect wireless networks, our survey has identified a high level of complacency. The tools used in the survey are widely available, easy to use and not sophisticated.”

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