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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Home Wi-Fi Users Urged: 'Be More Vigilant'

Lax security on home wi-fi means that nearly half can be hacked into in less than five seconds, according to a study.

Almost half the 40,000 networks identified in six UK cities had no password or the most basic form of security encryption, research for card protection and insurance company CPP found.
In the "ethical hacking" experiment, researchers spent half an hour in each city using freely available software to work on as many unsecured wireless connections as possible.
Almost a quarter of the private networks - 9,249 - had no password, despite 82% of Britons believing their network is secure.
But the study found even password-protected networks were not safe, with hackers able to breach a typical password in seconds.
The hackers were also able to "harvest" usernames and passwords at a rate of more than 350 an hour when sitting in town-centre coffee shops and restaurants.
"This report is a real eye-opener in highlighting how many of us have a cavalier attitude to wi-fi use, despite the very real dangers posed by unauthorised use," CPP identity fraud expert Michael Lynch said.
"We urge all wi-fi users to remember that any information they volunteer through public networks can easily be visible to hackers.
"It's vital they remain vigilant, ensure their networks are secure and regularly monitor their credit reports and bank statements for unsolicited activity."
Jason Hart, the hacker who carried out the experiments and the senior vice president of digital identity company CryptoCard, said: "All hackers require is a laptop computer and widely available software to target their victims.
"With the growth in the number of smartphones and wireless networks, it has become far easier for hackers to crack usernames and passwords, allowing them access to emails, social networks, and online banking sites and even to assume the online identity of their victim.
"It's vital that both businesses and individuals think very carefully about network security and what information they provide when going online."

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