News

Wi-Fi a Welcome Mat for Attackers, Study Finds

AirTight, a provider of Wi-Fi security services, recently scanned 3,632 access points (APs) and nearly 550 clients in seven different financial centers and found that half of these WPAs were either open (unprotected) or used WEP encryption.

The test sites were in New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Wilmington (Del.), San Francisco and London.

Lest you dismiss the issue as one of rogue access points or isolated consumer WPAs that were caught up in AirTight's dragnet, 39 percent of so-called "threat-posing" APs could be classified as "enterprise-grade." In many cases, AirTight reported, enterprise-grade APs that could have been configured to support the more robust WPA or WPA2 protocols were instead protected with WEP. AirTight was also careful to distinguish between known or popular open APs -- such as those associated with hotspots -- and enterprise-grade implementations.

In any given financial district, AirTight reported, 13 percent of mobile Wi-Fi clients are configured to operate in ad hoc mode, which makes them vulnerable to wi-phishing or "honeypotting" attacks, researchers pointed out.

AirTight found that 61 percent of open access points were consumer- or SOHO-grade devices. It doesn't strictly associate the use of these devices with home or SOHO scenarios, however; in some cases, these devices are deployed by "impatient" or reckless employees who, frustrated by the slowness of in-house Wi-Fi rollouts, plug rogue (typically consumer) APs into enterprise networks to perpetrate "back-door" schemes.

Moreover, AirTight reported, some enterprises seem to assume that simply obfuscating an AP's SSID is protection enough: 79 of open APs with hidden SSIDs were powered by enterprise-grade devices.

The AirTight report revealed a disappointingly low rate of WPA2 adoption -- just 11 percent, on average. Compare that with WEP, which is used by fully one-third of Wi-Fi networks in the surveyed financial districts. This is in spite of the fact that WEP cracking can take less than five minutes, AirTight researchers caution.

Moreover, AirTight noted, just under a third (32 percent) of Wi-Fi networks use WPA, which is also known to be vulnerable.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

comments powered by Disqus

Featured

  • Death of the Dev Machine?

    Here's a takeaway from this week's Ignite 2020 event: An advanced Azure cloud portends the death of the traditional, high-powered dev machine packed with computing, memory and storage components.

  • COVID-19 Is Ignite 2020's Elephant in the Room: 'Frankly, It Sucks'

    As in all things of our new reality, there was no escaping the drastic changes in routine caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during Microsoft's big Ignite 2020 developer/IT pro conference, this week shifted to an online-only event after drawing tens of thousands of in-person attendees in years past.

  • Visual Studio 2019 v16.8 Preview Update Adds Codespaces

    To coincide with the Microsoft Ignite 2020 IT pro/developer event, the Visual Studio dev team shipped a new update, Visual Studio 2019 v16.8 Preview 3.1, with the main attraction being support for cloud-hosted Codespaces, now in a limited beta.

  • Speed Lines Graphic

    New for Blazor: Azure Static Web Apps Support

    With Blazor taking the .NET web development world by storm, one of the first announcements during Microsoft's Ignite 2020 developer/IT event was its new support in Azure Static Web Apps.

  • Entity Framework Core 5 RC1 Is Feature Complete, Ready for Production

    The first release candidate for Entity Framework 5 -- Microsoft's object-database mapper for .NET -- has shipped with a go live license, ready for production.

Upcoming Events