Paris - communications fabbo, security poor...

Just back from a jolly in Paris, where it seems that every bistro, coffee shop and restaurant offers patrons a free WiFi connection. In fact, it's difficult to find anywhere in central Paris without a free WiFi connection.

In our apartment, meanwhile, we had an astonishingly fast - around 27 Mbps - cable modem connection courtesy of Orange/Wanadoo - and, corks, it was fast, even at the usual peak times of the day.

The same positive things cannot be said of the Frenchies' approach to IT security however. Only rarely did I encounter a public access/coffee shop PC with even the most basic of anti-virus software installed, forcing me to run Panda's Nanoscan before using any of 'em.

One other facet of the free WiFi access in Paris is the number of IP probes and possible attacks taking place. It's clear that hackers are taking advantage of the free WiFi access to conduct relatively anonymous IP attacks on any and all WiFi users.

Nasty stuff. I took down the ZoneAlarm firewall on my laptop a few times for a few minutes on several occasions, and was amused to see my port address being probed within seconds, and a heavy-duty attack being launched within a minute or so - presumably using an automated bot to organise things.

The other thing that struck me about Paris was the seriously casual attitude towards digital piracy.

One coffee bar, for example, was showing a copy of the new Simpsons movie on its screens, whilst I saw many punters busy downloading BitTorrent files, as well as widespread usage of Russian music download sites in a couple of Internet cafes I visited.

It's clear that French wired and wireless access to t'Internet is faster and more widespread than here in the UK, but it's equally clear there are severe security issues on several fronts - as a result - as well.

And now back to the delights of 1 Mbps SDSL here in the office...