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Hackers own all Wi-Fi hotspot data

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August 11, 2003

Someone, somewhere, is sniffing your unencrypted wireless data, warns analyst. No unencrypted data passing over public access Wi-Fi hotspots is safe from the prying eyes of hackers using simple packet sniffing tools, industry analysts have claimed.

According to analyst the Butler Group, existing security measures built into 802.11x wireless infrastructures is simply not good enough to protect data.

"Forget Wired Equivalent Privacy and the new Wi-Fi Protected Access for public Wi-Fi hotspots; we must assume that any unencrypted traffic transmitted or received by our wireless adaptor is being sniffed by someone, somewhere," the analyst said in its latest review of the industry.

"There's no doubt that Wi-Fi sniffing is easy to do - maybe someone will be sniffing the next wireless network you connect to. But the real question is, what will that someone do with the information they sniff?

Butler Group advised that there are ways to protect enterprises from easily available packet sniffing tools like dsniff, one of which is to deploy 'client-encryption' technology on all PCs, laptops, and mobile devices used to access sensitive corporate systems.

But the research firm added that, in the longer term, the only way forward is to demand that hardware and software vendors use and enforce strong encryption for all network traffic.


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