UAE lacks in wireless security awareness

Researchers warn that UAE web users may be leaving systems vulnerable to hackers.

UAE internet users are leaving their systems vulnerable to hackers by not setting their security configurations properly, researchers are warning.

A recent study by the American University of Sharjah into wireless security in the UAE found that a significant number of the wireless networks in Dubai and Sharjah have not been secured. Of the 1,858 access points identified in Dubai through the research, less than half (49%) were WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) enabled.

In Sharjah, this number was lower still with only 43% of the total 2,032 access points WEP enabled, the researchers found.

Dr Fadi Aloul, who led the research said identity theft was the biggest danger; an unauthorised user could send threat or spam e-mails under the cover of another person's identity over an unsecured network. To avoid using their own home or office connection, an attacker could access another user's WiFi access point to connect to the internet and send out spam or threat e-mails; if traced back, the mails would be traced to the legitimate rather than illegitimate user, Aloul explained further.

He also warned that interference in these networks could slow down network connection speeds.

"The high number of completely unsecured wireless networks, ie using default SSID names and no WEP encryption, shows the public's limited awareness of the security problems in wireless networks," the report said.

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