Page Two

By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2003-03-24 Print this article Print

Boingo Wireless Inc. and T-Mobile USA Inc. at the show announced plans to combine WLAN and 2.5G network services.

Boingo CEO Sky Dayton said the two companies are developing software to make it easier for users to switch from T-Mobiles branded HotSpot Wi-Fi networks to General Packet Radio Service WANs.

"I think it serves as a model," Dayton said here. "A user doesnt want to think about what service is available. They just want to get connected."

New software will include help files, a hot-spot location directory and a setup process that helps users move among networks with limited hassle.

But as WLANs continue to flourish, those who deploy them continue to ignore the myriad inherent security problems, according to a new study by RSA Security Inc., of Bedford, Mass.

The study, released at the CTIA show, found that of 328 wireless access points detected in downtown London, nearly two-thirds did not have Wired Equivalent Privacy encryption turned on. In addition, 100 of the access points were sending out signals identifying the organizations that owned them, and 208 were installed using the default configuration.

This seems to confirm the suspicions of most security experts, who for years have warned that most WLAN implementations are essentially unprotected.

RSA conducted the survey in November in several sections of downtown London. The survey was done by researchers driving through the city, using PDAs equipped with wireless cards and sniffer software.

This is the third such study the company has done, and the statistics show that the number of WLAN access points in the city has increased by nearly 200 percent since September 2001.

"The results of this survey astonished me. Corporations turning to wireless networks for operational flexibility without considering the security risks may be carelessly sacrificing the integrity of their systems," said Phil Cracknell, a security specialist with the Institute of Information Security, in Wiltshire, England, who helped carry out the survey.

"The emanations from these wireless networks can and do leak outside their buildings, providing access potential to hackers wherever they may be," Cracknell said. "This represents a real and significant threat to unprotected wireless networks."

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