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8/29/2006
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Authentium Warns

Authentium issued a warning against trusting free wireless access points located in airports and other public places

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Authentium, the leading developer of security software-as-a-service technologies, today issued a warning against trusting free wireless access points located in airports and other public places. The company said that public wireless networks are ripe for exploitation by hackers who may set up fake “free” WiFi hotspots in public places that could potentially be used to steal sensitive data, such as online banking passwords or personal information.

In a recent test at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, the most-trafficked airport in the US, Authentium engineers discovered that more than 90% of the wireless networks available within the passenger terminals were actually ad-hoc (i.e. computer to computer) connections – and more than 80% of these devices were advertising “free” WiFi access. On the day of testing, only one in ten of the advertised “free” wireless access points connected with O’Hare’s official wireless access hub. Many of the suspect devices registered as access points also displayed fake or misleading MAC addresses.

”Windows XP automatically prompts the user to accept or decline connections to available wireless networks. Naturally, most users will choose to connect to the “FREE WiFi” access point, which may in fact be a quick path to fraud.” said Ray Dickenson, Authentium’s Senior Vice-President of Products. “To make matters worse, the SSID’s (network names) of wireless networks you’ve joined before are saved on your system; your PC will automatically log on to any network with a saved name. It’s clear that Wifi environments in public places are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation by criminals and their malicious software tools; this vulnerability extends even to users who are not connecting to the networks but are simply using their laptops in the area,” he added.

Authentium Inc.

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