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This year, at Mobile World Congress, Avast Software carried out an experiment on attendees.  Researchers set up three open Wi-Fi networks near the exhibition entrance.  These WiFi spots were given innocent-looking names such as “Starbucks,” “MWC Free WiFi,” and “Airport_Free_Wifi_AENA.”  In just four hours more than 2,000 attendees connected to these hotspots based solely on their name (SSID), abandoning all security practices for the sake of free Internet access.  Just like kids being offered free candy (yikes!).  Details about each connecting device were visible as was the user’s identity in 63.5% of all the traffic.


Among the detailed findings were these:

  • 7% of all users searched the Web via Google or accessed their Gmail account
  • 5% of users had the Facebook app installed
  • 9% accessed a Yahoo! Site
  • 4% used the Twitter app
  • 2% listened to music via Spotify
  • 1% browsed a dating app, such as Tinder or Badoo


About the devices themselves, researchers noticed that 50.1% of people used Apple devices, 43.4% used Androids, while Windows Phone was found on 6.5% of all devices.


How This Affects End Users

People love free WiFi and seem to think of it like electricity – just plug in! – without thinking about the consequences.  Most of our clients have WiFi networks of some kind and allow their staff, or even friends and vendors/visitors, to connect using their personal devices.  Few of our clients have WiFi networks that separate company-only network access from guest Internet-only access.  The same devices that folks allow to connect to random free WiFi networks (hello Starbucks) are also connecting to company networks that have company data and resources attached to them.  How do we help them?  We can lovingly and consistently inform and remind our customers of these risks and recommend that they create (with our help) separate WiFi networks.  Our clients will also need to create a policy, and this is the hard part, to only allow wireless devices on the company network that require access to shared resources (file servers, printers, etc.).  All others will use the Guest wireless network that access to the Internet only.  This will greatly increase customer security and it will also give Nate something to do since he really isn’t busy with Jerry’s at all. ;-)


Because I believe that this is so important, and because this is really not too tough, here is the basic project process:

  • Segment wireless network into a Guest wireless and a Staff wireless SSIDs
  • Provide ONLY Internet access for the Guest wireless network
  • Force password changes on both wireless networks
  • Inform all staff that personal wireless devices should only go on the Guest wireless network
  • Provide Guest wireless password to all staff
  • Manually link corporate laptops and wireless devices to the Staff wireless network, not giving the password only to key personnel


More Info can be had here: