Film footage demonstrating how easy it is to gain access to unsecured wireless networks in the Irish Financial Services Centre is now available online.
Wireless Projects, the Dublin-based company that made the film, said it wanted to highlight the dangers of open wireless, or Wi-Fi networks. The video depicts three different types of hacker attacks. The first example shows an accidental hack where a user simply turns on their wirelessly enabled laptop and manages to connect to the nearest unsecured network. As a result, they are able to send emails and browse the internet for free.
Two more examples of malicious hacks are also shown. As one company had not changed the default passwords for its wireless network, it was possible to gain access easily to a router or access point. In the video, the demonstrator says: “I could implement my own security, or I could prevent others from accessing the network at all because they hadn’t followed some basic security rules.”
In the third hack we are shown how it is possible to gain access to an unknown user’s PC over a Wi-Fi connection. A hacker could install a virus on the system or delete and change files.
According to Wireless Projects, part of the reason behind filming the security breaches was due to the increasing number of open or unsecured wireless networks in the corporate environment. Earlier this year, the IT provider LAN Communications produced a survey of wireless security practices in three business parks in Ireland. The IFSC fared worst of the three in that report, with almost three quarters of wireless access points found to have not even the most basic wireless security settings.
More recent findings from Wireless Projects suggest that companies based in the IFSC have improved security since then; worse offenders are to be found on or near Dublin’s O’Connell Street and Stephen’s Green. Every week Wireless Projects conducts a ‘War-Walk’, checking on wireless security in different sections of Dublin city and publishing the results on its website.
Merrion Square and Mount Street show the highest concentration of wireless devices but only 41pc of these are open; that is, had no security procedures. O’Connell Street by contrast has open networks in 80pc of cases and 75pc of the networks around Stephen’s Green and Harcourt Street were open.
The wireless security video is available to download in RealPlayer and Windows Media format from the Wireless Projects website, www.wirelessprojects.ie. The site also contains further data on the ‘War-Walking’ exploits, updated weekly.
By Gordon Smith