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WiFi users blissfully ignorant about real security, research finds

Lame passwords, oversharing of access put WiFi nets at risk

By , Network World
October 05, 2011 03:01 PM ET

Network World - New research conducted on behalf of the Wi-Fi Alliance shows that while wireless users are making strides on the security front, they’re still leaving their Wi-Fi networks too open to intruders.

BETTER WIRELESS: Software upgrades could produce self-tuning wireless access points

The survey, conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of the Wi-Fi Alliance, found that 86% of Wi-Fi users have taken basic privacy and security steps in setting up their access points and routers. However, while 97% of those surveyed said they believe the data on their devices and networks is “safe and secure,” these same people scored an average of 66% when asked about a series of recommended security/privacy steps that they’ve taken. Some 59% have failed to use passwords meeting basic security criteria, only 62% have auto-sharing turned off and just 18% use VPNs when on a wireless hotspot.

The Wi-Fi Alliance recommends enabling WPA2, creating strong Wi-Fi network passwords (at least 8 characters long, with a mix of letters and symbols) and changing them regularly,  and turning off automatic sharing on devices to avoid connecting to suspect networks.

The survey was conducted during August and involved 1,000 interviews with a mix of people across the United States.

DANGEROUS DRIVING

The Wi-Fi study results are somewhat remindful of those in another recent survey, but this focused on cellphone and texting use while driving, and conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Some 95% of those surveyed said they view other drivers emailing or texting while driving to be a danger to their own health, but 35% of those same drivers acknowledged having sent or read a text or email message in the past month.  According to the survey, 88% of drivers feel talking on a phone is a threat to safety, yet two-thirds admitted to having talked on a cellphone while driving in the past 30 days.

The Web-based survey was conducted in June and involved some 3,100 U.S. residents.

There’s nothing unsafe about following Bob on Google+ (just don’t do it while driving or on an unsecured Wi-Fi network)

Read more about wireless & mobile in Network World's Wireless & Mobile section.

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