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Wireless networks are extremely vulnerable to intrusion from hackers -
even with encryption switched on, say leading security experts.

Foundstone, a division of McAfee, cautioned that the tools needed to
carry out such attacks are freely available on the internet and that
some distributions of Linux are specially pre-configured for these

No specialist knowledge is required to break a wireless network's
encryption so there's a wider pool of potential hackers to guard
WEP encryption is particularly susceptible to 'network sniffing'
whereby malicious users listen in on the packets of information being
exchanged between computers. When enough packets have been gathered it
becomes almost trivial to crack the encryption and reveal the
network's password.

WPA can be easily exploited by evesdropping on traffic when computers
sign onto a network - during the handshaking process.

Foundstone underlines the importance of choosing a secure password that
won't be vulnerable to a dictionary attack and changing the network
key often. It says that 10 per cent of people still use one of the top
50 most common passwords.

For commercial wireless use, Foundstone recommends that IT managers
assume that anyone can break the network key and that it should only be
the first of a layered defence against intrusion.

Martin Pivetta, market development manger at McAfee, says he is
highlighting this issue 'not to sell products but to create

- Marc Delehanty
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