Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


07:00 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme

Don't Do As Bruce Does

I'm talking about encryption and security expert, speaker, book author, and restaurant critic Bruce Schneier. Don't follow his security advice. At least when it comes to securing home wireless networks.

I'm talking about encryption and security expert, speaker, book author, and restaurant critic Bruce Schneier. Don't follow his security advice. At least when it comes to securing home wireless networks.You see, when it comes to his personal wireless network, he doesn't secure it. No encryption. No password. Nothing. Fact is, for a while now, Schneier has been expounding the fact that he runs his personal wireless network sans crypto. Not only can anyone driving by decide to read and capture all of his wireless traffic, they can also use his connection for some free Internet access -- if needed. To Schneier it's a matter of being neighborly:

"To me, it's basic politeness. Providing Internet access to guests is kind of like providing heat and electricity, or a hot cup of tea. But to some observers, it's both wrong and dangerous," he wrote in his blog.

Put me firmly in camp dangerous, if not camp reckless. I don't think his choice is wrong, at least not in a moral or ethical sense. Actually, if you read Schneier's blog, you'll see that he's well aware of the risks and has dismissed them as minimal. Security is about managing risk to the level you're comfortable. I agree with him on that.

If you live on a mountaintop, and there's no one around, there's no sense in encrypting your traffic from being snooped on by the nest of eagles. Same is true if you live in a congested city and just don't care.

Schneier dismisses the risks of someone hijacking his network to commit crime, and his likelihood of being held culpable, to be minimal. He's also not worried about someone using his connection to download illegal music files.

I think those risks are real enough to defend yourself against. Anyone with middle school networking skills could jump on an unsecured wireless network and capture your passwords, user names, account numbers. They can use your network address as an anonymous (for them) way to commit any crime they wish. When the police are called out, they're going to knock on the door of the ISP account holder. Which, even if innocence can be proved, could prove costly.

And while, just a couple of years ago, WEP was annoying and lacked good security, the same isn't true for WPA. It's a good protocol that offers a high level of security. And while I'm certain it could be broken by a motivated attacker, most criminals would choose to move on when they see the hardened network. And whose network will they choose to infiltrate?

Bruce's. And they'll do so simply because it's not encrypted. Because that network is the path of least resistance.

So, Bruce: Turn on WPA.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
5 Ways to Up Your Threat Management Game
Wayne Reynolds, Advisory CISO, Kudelski Security,  2/26/2020
Exploitation, Phishing Top Worries for Mobile Users
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/28/2020
Kr00k Wi-Fi Vulnerability Affected a Billion Devices
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/26/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
Data breaches and regulations have forced organizations to pay closer attention to the security incident response function. However, security leaders may be overestimating their ability to detect and respond to security incidents. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-28
On the QFX3500 and QFX3600 platforms, the number of bytes collected from the RANDOM_INTERRUPT entropy source when the device boots up is insufficient, possibly leading to weak or duplicate SSH keys or self-signed SSL/TLS certificates. Entropy increases after the system has been up and running for so...
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-28
Background For regular, unencrypted FTP traffic, the FTP ALG can inspect the unencrypted control channel and open related sessions for the FTP data channel. These related sessions (gates) are specific to source and destination IPs and ports of client and server. The design intent of the ftps-extensi...
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-28
An open redirect is present on the gateway's login page, which could cause a user to be redirected to a malicious site after logging in.
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-28
A reflected XSS vulnerability exists within the gateway, allowing an attacker to craft a specialized URL which could steal the user's authentication token. When combined with CVE-2020-6803, an attacker could fully compromise the system.
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-28
BigFix Self-Service Application (SSA) is vulnerable to arbitrary code execution if Javascript code is included in Running Message or Post Message HTML.