Are half of the UK's Wi-Fi networks vulnerable to hacking?

18 October 2010

Typical internet 'hackers'
According to research (probably undertaken by people who want you to buy security products), around half of the Wi-Fi networks in the UK are vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves. It would take a sorry specimen to want to take the identity of anyone associated with Bitterwallet.

The research involved something called an "ethical hacker". Does that mean he wears hemp trousers and cuddles modems? Anyway, this ethical hacker is called Jason Hart and he visited 6 UK cities and tested private Wi-Fi networks that broadcast signals to public places.

Using easily available equipment (though not necessarily easy to use) it is reported that Hart found 40,000 Wi-Fi networks that ran a high risk of being hijacked by hackers.

The study also showed that nearly a quarter of private wireless networks had no password protection, which of course, makes them easily accessible to people who might want to do something a bit dubious with it.

Hart said in a statement: “When people think of hackers they tend to think of highly organised criminal gangs using sophisticated techniques to crack networks. However, as this experiment demonstrates, all a hacker requires is a laptop computer and widely available software to target their victims.”

Where did he get his number from though? Did he go to some cities, get a number, and then multiplied his results by the number of places in Britain or what? Anyway, the lesson we've learned here is that, if you haven't protected your Wi-Fi connection with a password, do it. Or, if you want to buy some hemp trousers and hack someone else's, it's a piece of piss.

TOPICS:   Technology


  • DragonChris
    I'd genuinely love to know what sortware. Seriously. Would be interesting to try and crack my own connection :)
  • hackR
    Wireshark. Runs on linux and been on BBC Click about this.
  • MrRobin
    "Did he go to some cities, get a number, and then multiplied his results by the number of places in Britain or what? " Yeah, that's called sampling and is standard practice in statistics.
  • Nazi P.
    BBC Click. At the bleeding edge of technology.
  • Adebisi
    I hacked my Wi-Fe up and eat some of her brains a little
  • tiny
    It doesn't take a genius to work this out, you can just run a wireless scan on your Android phone. I just did a survey and found a suprisingly low number of open access points (2/5 if anyone is interested) and I wasn't even wearing hemp trousers.
  • PaulH
    @tiny Could I smoke your trousers?
  • SB
    Wireshark wont help you hack a wifi network (well not until you are in anyways - and it costs to sniff on wifi with it).. If you wanna check out your own security download the backtrack live cd .. its free just google for it.. its a self booting linux with a whole load of usefull apps on there.
  • hippy1001
    Sometimes i find it hard to connect to my wireless even with the password. Damn p.o.s router! I get that some people buy these routers and dont wanna mess about with all the settings they have like wpa,wpa2, mac address filtering, dmz, port forwarding and on. These simple beings just wanna plug it in and connect to the internet to play thier xbox or watch porn online. They dont care about someone hacking in. I blame the manufacturers really for not making it simple for people is it so hard to make an unintended configure program? nope! it aint, but it costs money and they dont wanna!
  • SB
    Unintended configuration? That would confuse me and I know what im doing!! :) I presume you mean Unattended Configuration, which some routers do have.. Although a better idea is for them just to have a default password and print in in 18pt on the bottom of the router so people can find it.
  • Sean K.
    Utter cock. There's a lot of WEP networks about which are easily hacked. However, i'll bet my career that he's counting all 'open' (unencrypted) networks as hackable, too. Where this falls down is pretty much all BT Broadband customers have a primary (encrypted) signal (aka SSID) as well as an unencrypted one that BT are using to create a network of paid for hotspots. They may be open, but good look hacking them. Therefore he's counting a lot of 'open' networks that he'll never in a million years get to use free wifi on, never mind sniff your traffic with. It's your typical pants reporting, fuelled by press releases :) Sean p.s. SB - you're right, Wireshark is only useful AFTER the event for getting personal information, and it also works well on hotspots. Mind you, the blurb about grabbing your passwords is overstated too, as most login screens (for gmail, shopping carts etc) are over SSL so you won't get those, either.
  • Gob
    The software is Aircrack-ng look here Basically people are using WEP when they should be using WPA or even better WPA2. Some aren't even protecting their access points at all.
  • evil r.
    I air SNORT at this
  • RG
    What's wrong with sharing your connection?
  • Nobby
    I prefer old skool. Smash the window and plug in an ethernet cable. They'll never know.
  • -]
    "found a suprisingly low number of open access points (2/5 if anyone is interested)" So you class almost half of all APs as a surprisingly low number? What counts as a high number in your world, 99%?
  • Bitterwallet’s B.
    [...] Are half of the UK’s WiFi networks vulnerable to hacking? [...]

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