Sophos Warbiking exposes Wi-Fi hotspot dangers in San Diego

CorporateNetworkPartnersSecurity TipsSophosLabsChester WisniewskiMobileWarbikingWi-Fiwireless

warbiking-san-diegoWe took our Warbiking tour to San Diego to raise awareness about wireless security, and we discovered that people in this high-tech city are connecting to thousands of unprotected wireless networks.

San Diego is a very technology-focused place, with lots of people connecting their mobiles and laptops to Wi-Fi hotspots around the city. And much like other cities we’ve visited such as New York and London, people may be unaware of the worrisome lack of security on many of these hotspots.

Chester Wisniewski, Sophos Senior Security Advisor, toured the city on his specially-equipped bike, picking up the signals of 8,048 Wi-Fi networks, to find out what kind of security they were using.

World of Warbiking Results: San Diego

So how secure are wireless users in San Diego?

Chet rode more than 20 miles in downtown San Diego, picking up 8,048 access points along the way. He found that 18% of these access points had no encryption; and another 3% were using the outdated WEP encryption.

“About 18% of them were wide open – so I could not just connect to them, but also see anything anyone was doing at the time,” Chet tells NBC San Diego.

The rest of the Wi-Fi hotspots, 6,768, or 79% of the total we scanned, were using WPA/WPA2 encryption, the recommended setting.

Just how much data are people giving away when they use open or improperly encrypted Wi-Fi connections?

It might shock many people to find out the answer.

“I could see all of the websites you’re accessing, which computers you’re connecting to, who you’re chatting with, your phone number and maybe some passwords – depending on the applications you’re using,” Chet says.

Watch the video of Chet’s Warbiking ride below, and be sure to check out our Wi-Fi security tips to learn more about how to use secure Wi-Fi networks at sophos.com/tips.

Wireless security tips

Stay secure when using Wi-Fi – Here are 5 easy tips for you to follow.

  1. Think twice before connecting to an open wireless network, they are not protected from cyberattacks. The best level of protection for a wireless network is called WPA2. Don’t use WEP, WPA or Open.
  2. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to keep your connection encrypted.
  3. Make sure you’re using HTTPS or SSL when visiting sensitive websites such as your email or bank.
  4. Keep your mobile devices and laptops secure – turn off connecting automatically to Wi-Fi hotspots.
  5. Use an antivirus and always keep your computers, devices and software patched with the latest security updates.

Get more of our top wireless security tips at sophos.com/tips.

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