Wi-Foo Author on Unsecured Wireless Networks

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As an ever increasing number of companies adopt wireless networks,securing them becomes a challenge -- and sometimes a nightmare -- formore IT and security administrators.

The three authors of the book Wi-Foo: The Secrets of WirelessHacking write about the threats to the growing wireless community.In the book, they look at how hackers attack and what technologies andstrategies are available to beat them.

Andrew Vladimirov co-authored the book along with Konstantin Gavrilenkoand Andrei Mikhailovsky. All three work at Arhont Ltd., a securityconsultancy in the United Kingdom. Vladimirov, in an exclusive interviewwith eSecurityPlanet, talks about what is lacking in mostwireless networks, how secure those networks are today, and what IT andsecurity administrators should be doing to improve security.

Vladimirov also talks about who makes up the target audience for thisself-described ''definitive guide to penetrating and defending wirelessnetworks''.

Q: Who did you write this book for?
We wrote it for anyone interested in wireless security. The largest partof our audience will be system administrators and network securitymanagement. When we started to write, the underground new far more thanthe average security administrator.

Q: On the back cover of your book, it says, ''If you're a hacker orsecurity auditor, this book will get you in. If you're anetadmin, sysadmin, consultant or home user, it'll keep everyone elseout.'' Who is this book really aimed at helping?
It's more like martial arts books, in a sense. Of course, an attackercould buy the book and use the instructions in it. The attackers knowthis stuff anyway. They fight every day. They think martial artists knownothing. They say they grew up on the streets and they know how tofight. System administrators and managers would look at this and say, 'Ididn't know these things'... We are marketing to the hacker, in a sense.There's also a large amount of war drivers who go around looking forwide open networks. They will always find them. When they read the book,our hope is they will understand a few things. That the defense could bejust as interesting as the attack. Despite everything said, if asecurity administrator knows more than they do, they could be caught andsuffer consequences... Another message is that this is not cool. Theycan see that there are people who know far more than they do.

Q: Are IT and security administrators quickly learning how to securetheir wireless networks?
Slowly. Too slowly. We've been war driving for years. When we starteddoing it around 2000 or 2001, 20 to 30 percent of networks had someprotection. Now I think this number has gone up by about 10 percent. Nowwe see about 40 percent of networks having default protection, whichdoesn't require anything other than configuring the measures providedwith the technology itself. It's not a huge progress, to be honest.

Q: How many companies have good layered security for their wirelessnetworks?
Very low... I would say it's probably about 5 percent. It's verydangerous because now all the information is on the surface and it'squite easy to obtain the data in wireless networks.

Q: You say in your book that wireless networks are wide open, howopen are they?
We have 30 percent who use some form of protection. Out of them, if anattacker takes an hour or just two hours of his or her time, two-thirdscan be cracked. The rest of the networks -- those 60 to 70 percent --are wide open. Only about 10 percent could stop most attackers.

Q: What is the one biggest thing that most IT and securityadministrators don't understand about wireless security?
In my opinion, it's the first layer. People don't understand radiofrequency. They can hardly imagine how far the network can spread. Howfar and where that attacker can position himself or herself. There aresome so-called security consultants... who go around the site where thenetwork is deployed without an external antennae or amplifier and theysay your network doesn't spread very far.

Q: What is going wrong? Why don't administrators understand wirelesssecurity basics?
There is a common flaw. It's a mindset flaw. They say, ''We don't haveany valuable data flashing through our network.'' Orr data is boring.Why would someone want to hack into it? This is a wrong perception. Oneof the first reasons people would want to do that is to hide theirtracks... They could be sending spam or downloading pirated software orpornography or attacking a bank or a government network, and if anattacker is within 10 or 15 miles of your wireless network with anantennae, they can use your network to do that.

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