Public WiFi is one of those things that can be really handy. But it can be fraught with danger as bad guys either set up spoof access points or poor security means anyone can eavesdrop on your traffic and listen in on the data you transmit and receive. One security company decided to go on a war-driving journey, on their bikes, to track down the safest public WiFi in all the land.
Sophos security experts Chet Wisniewski and John Shier went war-biking recently, looking for unsecure wireless networks and dangerous user behaviours. They found Perth has the country's safest WiFi.
Shier said, “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. 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.
While the wireless security message is getting through, they did find 6% of the networks they detected were wide open. However, more that two-thirds were using WPA2 with WPA making up the remainder of the security they observed. In contrast, they found almost a quarter of access points in Sydney had no security - although their numbers from Sydney are a couple of years old and I'd expect the situation to have improved in that time.
As always, I strongly recommend using a VPN when connected to any network you don't 100% trust and ensuring you have the latest security software and keep your system patched.