Home wireless networks more secure than business networks

Security of home wireless networks ...

Security of home wireless networks is outpacing business, according to the 7th annual wireless security survey from RSA, the security division of EMC.

The report released at the RSA Conference Europe 2008 in London shows that home network users appear to be more security-savvy than their corporate counterparts.

The survey was conducted in London, Paris and New York by independent security information professionals.

They scanned for wireless access points using a laptop computer and identified network information using commercial software.

In London and Paris home networks are far more secure than business networks, with very little difference in New York.

The survey found that in Paris 98% of wireless networks in homes used some form or encryption compared with 94% in business.

In London 90% of home networks were secured compared with 80% in business, which means 20% do not use any form of encryption.

Sam Curry, vice-president of identity and access assurance at RSA, said all wireless access points in business should be encrypted.

However, he said standard Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption offers very little protection against sophisticated hackers.

"We would strongly urge wireless network administrators to discount WEP as a viable security mechanism and upgrade to Wi-Fi Protected Access - or stronger - without delay."

The study found that in the use of advanced encryption, New York home networks had the biggest lead with 61% using it compared with 50% in business.

But Paris has the highest number of home networks using advanced encryption with a 75% uptake, which is 3% higher than business adoption in the city.

Wireless networks in London's homes are on a par with business networks with about 48% of both using advanced encryption.

Not using advanced encryption can leave the organizations involved vulnerable to whole classes of attacks against both access points and wireless client computers, said Curry.

Overall, Paris showed fastest growth in wireless access points with a 543% year-over-year increase.

The London figure grew only 72% compared with 160% in 2007 and New York growth at 45% was 4% less than the year before.

Paris also saw the largest jump in the number of public access points, with 300% growth outstripping New York (44%) and London (34%).

However, London retains its position as the "most wireless city" with a total of 12,276 access points detected - exceeding the number we found in New York City by more than 3,000.

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