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 WEP was superseded by Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2 in 2004.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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