Cisco: 87% of Europeans have a security enabled wireless network

Cisco research has revealed today that 87% of respondents surveyed across 10 European countries with a wireless internet connection at home said that they have security enabled on their wireless home network.

The online survey, commissioned by Cisco and carried out by YouGov, showed that the UK and Germany lead the pack in wireless security with 92% and 96% having enabled Wi-Fi security, respectively. The survey also showed that Spain, Italy and the UK are the most wireless Internet enabled countries in Europe.

Graham Cluley, a computer security expert, welcomed the results of the survey. "87% is great but that still means we've got 13% to go" Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, told Neowin. Cluley also questioned the report's findings as there is no indication what type of security is enabled on the networks. "WEP is next to useless" Cluley stated. Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is the least secure form of encryption available on modern routers today. Several flaws and weaknesses were identified with WEP which, with readily available software, can be cracked "within minutes". WEP was superseded by Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2 in 2004.

Leslie Forbes, technical manager at F-Secure, echoed Cluley's concerns. "These results are plausible, even statistically; however I wonder what the question was? Just 'security' means very little in the face of badly broken WEP." A Cisco spokesperson confirmed that the survey only provided multiple choice answers. Participants had to choose between the following answers based on "Do you have a wireless Internet connection?":

  • Yes, and security is enabled (e.g. password protected, WPA, WPA2, WEP wireless encryption)
  • Yes, but security is NOT enabled (e.g. password protected, WPA, WPA2, WEP wireless encryption)
  • No, I do not have a wireless Internet connection
  • Not applicable, I use a wireless network from another building
  • Not applicable, I do not have the Internet at home
  • Don’t know

Forbes also questioned the role of education and ISPs in network security. "I believe that ISPs deliver most routers preconfigured with some form of security. They also often leave uPnP (universal Plug and Play) switched on, which means that games consoles for example can tell the router to open certain ports permitting other consoles to connect to itself. This is a wholesale hole." He added that more needs to be done around educating users about the setup of their networks. Forbes also suggested that ISPs could provide the highest default security or even managed routers.

The report also found that computers and laptops are the most common devices connected to the wireless networks followed by printers and games consoles. The Spanish like to use their Wireless Internet connection in the bedroom the most according to one question in the survey that asked "which, if any, of the following places do you use your wireless Internet connection at home?"

View: Cisco Wireless YouGov Results (PDF)

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Is your Wi-Fi secure?

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36 Comments

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A lot of ISPs are now shipping their wireless routers with security already enabled, which has certainly helped as it forces people to use it.

The reason is because all ISP's now ship routers/modems with WI-FI security enabled. That didn't happen in the early days.

Beaux said,
"87% of respondents"

I think that's far from "87% of Europeans"...

If they did their survey properly with a group of people representative of the whole population, then they can extrapolate to the whole population. That's just how survey's work, and it's often quite accurate.

Why am I not surprised that Germany leads the field? If anyone's going to follow an instruction book to the letter it's a German :)

njlouch said,
Why am I not surprised that Germany leads the field? If anyone's going to follow an instruction book to the letter it's a German :)

According to the article it was the UK that leads the field, however we won't let a silly thing like reading the article get in the way of setting up your joke...

empty said,

According to the article it was the UK that leads the field, however we won't let a silly thing like reading the article get in the way of setting up your joke...


To be fair, the article and pie charts do contradict:
The Article said,

the UK and Germany lead the pack in wireless security with 96% and 92% having enabled Wi-Fi security, respectively.

c.f the pie charts directly underneath.

The most popular Belgian ISP (Belgacom) provides all-in-one modem-router-wireless things, and they almost never are secured. Tons of bbox-xxxx are available all over where I live and you can just log on and use internet as much as you want.

Ambroos said,
The most popular Belgian ISP (Belgacom) provides all-in-one modem-router-wireless things, and they almost never are secured. Tons of bbox-xxxx are available all over where I live and you can just log on and use internet as much as you want.

There is an ISP in Poland which is quite similar... handy for me as I can borrow a connection rather than using the 3G networks (roaming charges et al) on my phone.

It helps that some countries (especially ISP's) already provide pre-configured and secured wireless routers when sending them to the users.
It used to be that the routers had the factory settings and were just shipped, and it was up to average Joe to secure them. Most of them didn't know the first thing about this, as you plug it in and it just works. Now they inverted this, which works out much better.

Odom said,
It helps that some countries (especially ISP's) already provide pre-configured and secured wireless routers when sending them to the users.

This probably contributed to the UK's high percentage; pretty much all ISP's ship their routers configured with WPA and the majority of people are unaware that this can be turned off should they wish to do so.

I've disabled my Wi-Fi security - i find it very convenient to have unsecured wifi access whenever i have my laptop with me so it's only fair that i share my internet with others. besides, if worse comes to worse and i'm ever taken to court for anything i might do online, nobody can say beyond any reasonable doubt that i was the perpetrator of any offence cause anyone would have had access to my internet connection.

+1 If you're going to use other people's connections it's expected that you share yours too. I keep mine insecure and available to all that wish to use it (have a public park in front of my house, so there's a lot of potential users). Then again I don't even use my wireless network that much, cable is a lot more reliable, fast and secure.

jbonello said,
I've disabled my Wi-Fi security - i find it very convenient to have unsecured wifi access whenever i have my laptop with me so it's only fair that i share my internet with others. besides, if worse comes to worse and i'm ever taken to court for anything i might do online, nobody can say beyond any reasonable doubt that i was the perpetrator of any offence cause anyone would have had access to my internet connection.

That's nice, but don't do that in France. We have a new law which allows private companies to report copyright breaches (illegal downloads) to a public institution which then sends a warning to the owner of the perpetrating IP address. If you're caught again after 2 warnings, you get all your Internet access cut off for up to a year, and up to €1500 in fines. If you subscribe to another Internet access while being cut off, you can get another massive fine.
The way this law works is that it doesn't find you guilty of copyright infringement, but guilty of not having prevented copyright infrigement through lack of security of your Internet access.
Basically, it's illegal in France for the owner of an Internet access to not have control over what is done with it.

That doesn't replace the claims that copyright holders may have, and they can still sue for copyright infringement, on top of the effects of that law. But they probably won't bother.

Edited by dismuter, Feb 2 2010, 12:49pm :

jbonello said,
I've disabled my Wi-Fi security - i find it very convenient to have unsecured wifi access whenever i have my laptop with me so it's only fair that i share my internet with others. besides, if worse comes to worse and i'm ever taken to court for anything i might do online, nobody can say beyond any reasonable doubt that i was the perpetrator of any offence cause anyone would have had access to my internet connection.

I agree about the so-called plausible deniability... people screw up, & that very much includes the employees of any company, gov, or organization. Yet they are assumed to be infallible compared to the lowly consumer whenever there's any sort of dispute. After all, while I'm sure there are still folks with a conscience, what do many of these employees care if someone they don't know gets hurt? Especially since getting caught doing sloppy work or making errors could get them in trouble. We're just an impersonal, dehumanized number. I wouldn't be surprised if this Cisco report is now used to support the notion that it's always the consumer at fault.

I like the idea of providing free access just to be nice. :-)
It can be impractical however... at the apts where we live there are so many open, wireless connections that it's actually a small hassle making sure you're connecting to your own router.

What you can secure your wireless route?!?! Why did no one tell me this... the thieving neighbours have had free broadband for years.

Redz0ne said,
What you can secure your wireless route?!?! Why did no one tell me this... the thieving neighbours have had free broadband for years.

if and when u established ur wireless and if u did take the router out of the box and read the instructions it states how to secure ur connection. so no one had to tell u, u must read first and then ask . it is very simple to secure ur connection the hard part is to create a passkey that is not easy to crack. there will always be people looking for unsecured connections to use the bandwidth and do not so legal things with ur ip address. we had a neighbor who works for ibm and he always tried to make a connection to our network. such a cheapskate and idiot to not think that a lot people who work for ibm surely must be fully idiotic.

belto said,

if and when u established ur wireless and if u did take the router out of the box and read the instructions it states how to secure ur connection. so no one had to tell u, u must read first and then ask . it is very simple to secure ur connection the hard part is to create a passkey that is not easy to crack. there will always be people looking for unsecured connections to use the bandwidth and do not so legal things with ur ip address. we had a neighbor who works for ibm and he always tried to make a connection to our network. such a cheapskate and idiot to not think that a lot people who work for ibm surely must be fully idiotic.

</sarcasm>

Redz0ne said,
What you can secure your wireless route?!?! Why did no one tell me this... the thieving neighbours have had free broadband for years.

;)

MrFuji said,
I wonder if the survey regarded WEP as secure...

More importantly the survey asked the user if they were using wireless security... i reckon many THINK they are. I could, if need be, log in to many of my neighbours wireless connections but i bet they don't know this.

Tom W said,

Updated the story to reflect that kind of question :)

This is one of the things that makes Neowin so great <3
And this reminds me I need to review my settings.

Seems to me though like the people who took the time to respond to a survey from Cisco would be the more computer-inclined type. Just speculation, though.

Thats what I was thinking.
Online surveys would have a bias to more frequent computer users, plus how many people go "hey a survey from cisco" *click*.

nice to know that people are getting to grips with their wifi security, i bet the majority of wireless routers by isp's have had a help in the factor though since most will probably come with it enabled by default which is a good thing :)

I contributed to this as i answered this survey on YouGov... way to go me ;)
I think a lot of students and children use their wireless in the bedroom for privacy reasons so this would add to the bedrooms lead...

thealexweb said,
Wow the UK are ahead... for once.

UK and the rest of the world is always ahead. I'd stick it on WPA, but dad is very picky about his stupid wireless connection. So I leave it on WEP. Which is better than the neighbors who's network I can get on because for whatever reason they have no security. Personally I'd rather stay wired. And it's faster