A report by life assistance company CPP has shown that up to 50% of UK home WiFi networks can be hacked within just 5 seconds.
UK Cities Exposed
The experiment was conducted in the UK cities of London, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester. The reports says that up to 40,000 networks were found to be high risk, which could lead to individual personal data being exposed.
The study was carried out by who CPP call their "ethical hacker", Jason Hart, Senior Vice President of CRYPTOCard. He points out that people seem to rely on Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) too much and don't know how easy this is to crack. Jason says that all you need is some software, a gadget, a WiFi connection and in time you can hack it.
The other significant area of concern that the "ethical hacker" found was how people assume that wireless hotspots are secure. These hotspots can be cracked and your username, password and other details captured, says Mr Hart.
The report says that hacking into someones network allows criminals to sell on stolen goods, view private transactions and commit fraud. The study point to only 1 in 20 people knowing that they have been hacked and their private network used without their knowing.
The study also shows that 16% of people use public networks to gain web access but in the study hackers were able to grab user details and passwords at a rate of more than 350 per hour, simply by using WiFi networks in coffee shops and restaurants. During the experiment more than 200 people in one hour unknowingly used a fake WiFi network giving out their personal details.
Attitude to security
Michael Lynch, identity fraud expert at CPP said "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. 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."
The conclusion from the "ethical hacker" is that many people assume these kind of activities are carried out by large criminal gangs using sophisticated methods. However, the reality is that anyone can commit this kind of fraudulent behaviour just using a laptop and readily available software.
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