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Increase in new WLAN risk found at SuperComm

SuperComm attendees expect on-demand wireless connectivity and will do anything to get it including putting their c...


June 24, 2004  


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SuperComm attendees expect on-demand wireless connectivity and will do anything to get it including putting their corporate networks at risk, according to wireless monitoring vendor AirDefense Inc.

IBM Corp. and AirDefense monitored the air space at SUPERCOMM, the world’s largest conference for communication service providers and private network managers, to alert network managers to the dangers of unprotected wireless LANS (WLANs).

The two found an accelerated growth of soft APs (access points) at the Chicago conference, which ended today.

“Call SUPERCOMM 2004 ‘the year of the soft AP,'” said Richard Rushing, chief security officer of AirDefense. “People are taking control of their connectivity by purchasing software that turns their laptops into functioning access points. Consequently they are creating additional confusion and interference on the already congested network.”

AirDefense noticed soft APs appearing at tradeshows as early as 2003.

However, as with any new technology, the proliferation of the application is increasing exponentially. Unlike previous years when conference goers used only their cell phones to call in to the office, attendees are now cartingtheir laptops and require access to e-mail and files on the show floor, it said.

AirDefense noted as many as 117 users attempting to connect to a single IBM Hotspot at one time. However, as these users repeatedly attempted to connect in this congested environment, they often inadvertently connected to soft APs mimicking the hotspot.

It also found the majority of attendees using wireless were using passwords in clear text when attempting to connect to the hotspot. Only 10% of attendees used virtual private networks (VPNs) to connect and secure their communications.