'Warbiking tour' reveals strong Perth Wi-Fi security

Wednesday, 07 February, 2018

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The majority of Wi-Fi networks in Perth have strong security protocols in place, according to a new report.

Sophos security experts have used computer-equipped bicycles to get around Perth and expose any unsecure wireless networks of dangerous user behaviour that could be exploited by rogue hackers.

The ‘Warbiking tour’ research project has targeted major cities across the globe. Conducted over two days around the streets of the city, the exercise in Perth revealed that of the 7238 access points (APs) surveyed:

  • the majority, 94%, of networks were operating WPA or WPA2 security protocols;
  • almost 68% were using WPA2 security protocols;
  • very few networks, 6%, had no security protocols at all.

“Over the course of a couple of hours, we found over 70,000 data points each in Perth — that tells you the ubiquity of wireless in our major cities today,” said John Shier from Sophos.

“Individuals want to be connected at all times, but it is critical to understand the risks that come with connecting to unsecure networks, not to mention what can be hacked by outsiders.”

The research revealed almost 300 laptops, cars (including Ford and Audi models), printers and other devices with ad hoc networking enabled. In addition, the duo observed over 125 manufacturers of APs across the city, demonstrating diversity and inherent security against the same attack.

“We observed some of the best security we have seen in any city we’ve surveyed,” said Chet Wisniewski from Sophos.

“In Perth, 6% of APs were left unencrypted — this is down from between 14% and 28% in other cities we’ve measured in the past, suggesting that we have largely eliminated networks that are open by mistake. Whilst Wi-Fi encryption is only one part of online safety, it’s good to see the city taking it seriously — a trend we hope to see across our other major cities including Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.”

Image credit: ©lassedesignen/Dollar Photo Club

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