Wi-Fi Security Risks at Democratic National Convention Site

BOSTON, Newbury Networks Inc., (http://www.newburynetworks.com) the industry’s first and only provider of location-based management and security solutions for wireless networks, today unveiled data collected from a recent war drive in Boston showing extensive amounts of Wi-Fi devices — both open, unsecured wireless networks and 802.11 client cards. A large number of these devices were discovered in the area surrounding Boston’s FleetCenter — site of the upcoming Democratic National Convention (DNC) beginning July 26, 2004.

To illustrate the security challenges of wireless networks, Newbury utilized their award-winning WiFi Watchdog(TM) solution during a recent “war- drive” to identify unsecured Wi-Fi activity in the area surrounding the FleetCenter. With an estimated 35,000 delegates, media and elected officials planning to attend the four-day event, wireless network technology will play a key role in the distribution and exchange of information throughout the convention site. Given the proliferation of wireless access points and the number of anticipated wireless devices in the area, the DNC’s official “no Wi- Fi” policy will be very difficult to enforce and manage inside the convention facility.

Here’s what was discovered in a single 3-hour “war driving” exercise throughout Boston, conducted during the week of July 12, 2004 using Newbury’s WiFi Watchdog(TM) security solution:

A total of 3,683 unique Wi-Fi devices detected — approximately 60% being wireless access points and 40% wireless network cards. An average of 1 wireless network card every 2 minutes accidentally associated with Newbury’s open access point (or “honey pot” network) throughout Boston and at the DNC site. 65% of the wireless networks detected had no encryption enabled leaving them vulnerable to attacks and security breaches.

457 unique wireless access points (the majority of which were unsecured) and wireless network cards were detected in the general area surrounding the Democratic National Convention site. “The proliferation of open wireless network access poses a significant security challenge for the DNC — not just near the convention site but throughout the city,” said Matthew Gray, founder and CTO, Newbury Networks, Inc. “With so much emphasis being placed on physical security at the convention, it will be important for organizers to also consider the implications of wireless security risks at this high profile global event.”

Nearly 3,000 of the total Wi-Fi devices were discovered in Boston’s Back Bay and other parts of the city where many of the 35,000 DNC attendees will be housed. The availability of Wi-Fi access at most hotels throughout the city increases the likelihood that conventioneers will access 802.11 networks from their laptops and carry those same laptops into the FleetCenter where there are no restrictions on such devices. Coupled with the fact that most Wi-Fi security breaches occur when the laptop’s operating system automatically looks for available wireless networks when it’s turned on, this potentially sets up a dangerous security scenario based on the level of open Wi-Fi networks in range of the FleetCenter.

“Newbury undertook this experiment to illustrate the security challenges that arise with the rapid adoption of WiFi technology. Four years ago, at the last set of national political conventions, WiFi was still in its ‘early- adopter’ stage”, noted Michael Maggio, President & CEO of Newbury Networks. “Now the proliferation of WiFi devices, with their huge productivity gains, demand that all organizations, enterprises, government and private organization understand the security challenges and the solutions available to make these networks secure as well as productive.”

About Newbury Networks

Newbury Networks is the provider of the industry’s first and only location-based management and security solutions that enables IT/Security professionals to locate, manage and secure WLANs. Newbury’s award-winning products provide unprecedented security through its patented location-based tracking and perimeter security capabilities.

Unlike traditional wireless IDS and network infrastructure solutions, Newbury’s products provide breakthrough capabilities for managing and securing WLANs by location — ultimately resulting in enhanced, airtight security and system performance. And unlike other location-based offerings, its server- based approach enables content and network provisioning, tracking, logging and analysis. Newbury Networks was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Boston.

Newbury Networks, WiFi Watchdog are trademarks of Newbury Networks, Inc. All other company and product names are property of their respective companies.

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