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Half of UK Home Wi-Fi Networks Vulnerable to Hackers


Half of UK Home Wi-Fi Networks Vulnerable to Hackers

A report has emerged suggesting that all most half of all Wi-Fi networks can be hacked in as little time as five seconds.

An insurance and protection company, CPP, commissioned a study into Wi-Fi security, and discovered that a total of 40,000 networks in the country could be easily hacked, while a quarter of all networks did not have even a basic password protecting them.

The experiment was conducted by ‘ethical hacker’ and senior vice president of CRYPTOCar Jason Hart, who travelled between major cities using ‘WarDriving’ kit. This essentially means a laptop, some software, a badly set-up Wi-Fi hotspot and some patience.

In the experiment the Hart was able to harvest 350 names in one hour, sitting in a town centre near coffee shops and restaurants. One of the most worrying aspects was that 200 people logged onto a fake Wi-Fi network over the course of an hour.

The biggest danger is the harvesting of data for identity theft and access to financial information.

CPP’s identity theft expect Michael Lynch said, "This report is a real eye-opener in highlighting how many of us have a cavalier attitude to wi-fi use, despite the very real dangers posed by unauthorised use. We urge all wi-fi users to remember that any information they volunteer through public networks can easily be visible to hackers. It's vital they remain vigilant, ensure their networks are secure and regularly monitor their credit reports and bank statements for unsolicited activity."

Hart, who carried out the experiment said, "With the growth in the number of smartphones and wireless networks, it has become far easier for hackers to crack usernames and passwords, allowing them access to emails, social networks, and online banking sites and even to assume the online identity of their victim. It's vital that both businesses and individuals think very carefully about network security and what information they provide when going online."

Top tips to protect your network include, using WPA2 encryption rather than WEP, and not broadcasting your SSID if you can help it. If you have to, at least change it from the default and naturally, change the password too.


October 15, 2010, 11:05 pm

I wonder if our esteemed MPs were shown a similar report before the DEB was voted on.

Actually scratch that, they dont care :)


October 15, 2010, 11:47 pm

Im afraid I cant agree with hiding your SSID as a security step. Its a bit of an old wives tale to be fair. Welcome to hear anyone elses view on this. Here is a link to an article which supports my theory. Saves me boring you all here !!



October 16, 2010, 2:51 am

This information will never filter through to the person on the street. Lost cause. I like how ISP's are giving away their own Routers which are already setup with security as most people wouldn't otherwise bother. An example is my parents Orange Livebox. Requires pushing a button on the box itself before any new connections can be made.

Can I just add that some of the software you recommended in your Android productivity feature request access to a worrying portion of someones phone. Oh and using your phone for banking, be it Iphone, Android or whatever is a mistake regardless of convenience.


October 16, 2010, 4:57 pm

@v6tas: I agree that it isn't a security mesure but I would say it is more of a privacy mesure to be combined with WPA2 and mac address filtering for security.

reason I say it is more of a privicy mesure is because it would easily stump the guy with his phone or laptop searching for wifi spots yours wouldn't show up. and the determined hacker would easily see the SSID but then has the very long and random WPA2 AES PSK passcode and mac address filtering before he gets near any data.


October 17, 2010, 3:28 pm

Whilst I agree with v6tas about hiding SSID - I've read articles about this before - I'd still do it because hackers will look for the easiest routes first, just as burglars look for the softest targets when breaking into homes. Why bust open a locked door when the one next to you is already unlocked?

Additionally, my wifi at home is never left on when there is nobody using it - I notice many keep theirs on 24/7 which to me seems ludicrous and asking for trouble.


October 17, 2010, 5:06 pm

Yes people still dont know the basics of computers but I know its a technical subject. There is always somebody trying to rip you off or trying to steal something off you because they are too dis-honest.

Take my street for example- you wouldnt think that it be the sort of place were curtain people will brake windows of your cars and try to nick your car. Or steal the slabs off the pavments and sell it off. I mean WTF how low can ya go?

Yes people need to may there wireless routers more secure and change your protocole setting and the factory fitted (user name) & and (Password). People do anything for money no matter how low it is. I mean would you sink to the lowest point for your family so that you can get food on the table?

I think so


October 17, 2010, 6:38 pm

Wait is this SKY news?

OMG they may edit Majorie's confidential word .doc to the WI commitee members, even worse still they could piggyback my not fast as advertised broadband.

Haxor AKA NOTW if you are new Labour suck.

On a serious note I think it's totally unprofessional of the "Information Commisioner" to appear on rolling news and call people "idiot's" because they have either better things to do than configure a router, or they do not know how to.

Tony Walker

October 18, 2010, 6:51 am


My router has several devices going into it over wired ethernet that requires it be on 24/7. Whilst I could turn WiFi off, I use that on an irregular but frequent basis, and do not fancy the hassle of connecting a laptop or PC to one of the ethernet ports to turn it back on again.


October 18, 2010, 2:38 pm

@RonRoyce; Hiding your SSID is pointless, although if you are really freaky about your privacy, then by all means do so. The point you make about hiding the SSID so hackers don't see it first is not true either. The sort of software that hackers use would not even care which ones are hidden or not, it'll just sniff out any network and list them.

The only real deterrent is your WPA pass-phrase, so make sure it's a biggie! MAC address filtering is also a common myth about security, it is easily overcome.

You're probably right about switching the wireless network off though, even though I don't do it! (Unless I'm away and everything is powered off anyway!) Some routers have a button on the front and you can easily turn the wireless on and off, but if you need to go into the software and turn it off, it's a right pain in the arris.

Terry 10

October 23, 2010, 11:51 am

Sitting in my garden office, I can usually see around 17 wireless networks in my immediate vicinity. Of these, three are completely open and three (including myself) are using full RSNA-CCNP (WPA2) protection. The remainder are using very weak (easily breakable) protection.

It is good to know that there is a selection of backups in case my ISP goes down!

And I agree that hiding SSID and using MAC filtering is almost pointless.

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