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Study: What Happens in Vegas Might Not Stay in Vegas

Wireless penetration test shows hotels, casinos don't adequately protect their WiFi networks

LAS VEGAS -- Interop 2008 -- Inside the casinos here, there's so much security that you can't move your hand without being seen. But outside, Air Defense says, the security isn't so hot.

Air Defense, a wireless security company, this week revealed the results of a penetration test it conducted in Vegas, which evaluated the integrity of WiFi networks and other connections at hundreds of hotels, casinos, and retail establishments.

Surprisingly, the study says, Las Vegas retailers are doing a much better job with wireless security than their hotel and casino counterparts. Approximately 65 percent of the 640 retail wireless access points (APs) that Air Defense discovered were protected with strong encryption, usually WiFi Protected Access (WPA) or WPA 2.

Conversely, 82 percent of the 1,557 of the wireless APs found in casinos and hotels either offered no encryption or were using Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), which has been shown to be easily hackable.

"What was most surprising in [the study]is that, as serious as retailers are taking wireless security today, the same can't be said in the majority of hotels and casinos," said Richard Rushing, chief security officer at Air Defense.

"The majority of hotels and casinos are making a poor attempt to secure wireless communications," Rushing said. "The most egregious findings were unencrypted APs that were set up to give guests WiFi access, but which simultaneously gave intruders an opening to troll for sensitive customer or corporate data."

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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