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.


11:00 AM
Connect Directly

Survey: 1 in 4 WLANs Unsecured

RSA survey finds more WLANs, but not much security

Up to 25 percent of business wireless LANs don't encrypt their traffic -- and that's only if you count the much-maligned Wireless Equivalency Protocol (WEP) as security, according to a new survey that will be released today by RSA Security.

"One of four business networks are not providing security at all," says Toffer Winslow, vice president of product management for encryption company RSA, the security division of EMC. "WEP today doesn't really constitute security, but we're being charitable counting it as 'secure.'"

RSA focused its study on three cities -- London, New York, and Paris. The study found major growth. In London, the number of wireless APs grew by 160 percent from last year, in New York by 49 percent, and in Paris by 44 percent.

Much of that growth came from the business side. "Business access points are growing more than hotspots," Winslow says.

The good news is that the number of vulnerable WLANs has dropped from last year. The figures in London went from 26 percent in 2006 to 19 percent in 2007; New York dropped from 25 percent to 24 percent, and Paris dropped from 22 percent to 20 percent.

"But in absolute numbers, there are more unsecured business networks out there than before, because there's a high underlying growth," RSA's Winslow says.

Winslow was disturbed that many of these businesses don't bother to change the default administrative user name and password on their wireless equipment. "They don't go in and change those settings, so it's reasonable for a hacker to do a sniffer test and see if he can use the default settings," he says. "In London, 30 percent of all businesses and consumer WLANs were using default settings."

What about advanced encryption, such as WPA and 802.11i? In New York, 49 percent of business APs were implementing such advanced encryption. About 48 percent use these technologies in London, and 41 percent in Paris.

The RSA report points out that users could easily connect to an unsecured business WLAN rather than a wireless hotspot -- either on purpose or accidentally -- opening the organization up to serious risks such as data theft, identity theft, or attacks such as denial of service.

RSA recommends that when mobile users must connect via a hotspot, they should use their corporate VPN connection and WEP or other advanced encryption, as well as strong authentication. He says RSA has a similar policy, so that when he jumps on the corporate WLAN while he's in a meeting, for instance, he uses a VPN link and SecureID for authentication.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

  • RSA Security Inc. (Nasdaq: EMC)
  • World Cellular Information Service (WCIS) Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
    Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
    Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
    Lessons from the NSA: Know Your Assets
    Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  12/12/2019
    4 Tips to Run Fast in the Face of Digital Transformation
    Shane Buckley, President & Chief Operating Officer, Gigamon,  12/9/2019
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Current Issue
    The Year in Security: 2019
    This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
    Flash Poll
    Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
    Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
    Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
    There is an improper authentication vulnerability in Huawei smartphones (Y9, Honor 8X, Honor 9 Lite, Honor 9i, Y6 Pro). The applock does not perform a sufficient authentication in a rare condition. Successful exploit could allow the attacker to use the application locked by applock in an instant.
    PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
    Some Huawei smart phones have a null pointer dereference vulnerability. An attacker crafts specific packets and sends to the affected product to exploit this vulnerability. Successful exploitation may cause the affected phone to be abnormal.
    PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
    There is an information disclosure vulnerability in certain Huawei smartphones (Mate 10;Mate 10 Pro;Honor V10;Changxiang 7S;P-smart;Changxiang 8 Plus;Y9 2018;Honor 9 Lite;Honor 9i;Mate 9). The software does not properly handle certain information of applications locked by applock in a rare condition...
    PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
    Huawei CloudUSM-EUA V600R006C10;V600R019C00 have an information leak vulnerability. Due to improper configuration, the attacker may cause information leak by successful exploitation.
    PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
    Certain Huawei products (AP2000;IPS Module;NGFW Module;NIP6300;NIP6600;NIP6800;S5700;SVN5600;SVN5800;SVN5800-C;SeMG9811;Secospace AntiDDoS8000;Secospace USG6300;Secospace USG6500;Secospace USG6600;USG6000V;eSpace U1981) have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. An attacker who logs in to the board m...