Saturday, October 14, 2006

It's a Wireless Jungle Out There

Quick question: Would you walk down a street alone knowing that nine of every 10 other pedestrians are at least acting suspiciously, like they want to steal something from you?

That’s what you are doing, electronically speaking, when you use free Wi-Fi.

Last summer, engineers from Authentium paid a visit to O’Hare Airport in Chicago. The results should raise red flags for business travelers and IT departments.

An Authentium exec told us in a recent interview that the engineers determined more than 90 percent of the networks they found were ad-hoc in nature, meaning that they emanated from another computer and not from an access point. Perhaps even more startling was the finding that more than 80 percent of these ad hoc systems advertised free Wi-Fi access services.

Certainly not all, probably not most, of these networks were run by crooks. A small coffee shop could set up a Wi-Fi service from the owner’s PC, for example.

But it’s a good bet that a bunch of the networks were not on the level. That’s the bad news. The worse news is that the nature of wireless makes it likely that unsuspecting travelers will tap into these bogus networks. Once there, they are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle and other types of attacks.

Read the full story at

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