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ICO survey reveals widespread Wi-Fi security woes

A survey commissioned by the Information Commissioner's Office suggests that around 40 per cent of home users haven't the foggiest idea how to configure their wireless network's security settings.

The survey, carried out via the YouGov website, showed that around 40 per cent of users were unable to configure the security settings on their wireless routers - and a surprising 16 per cent didn't know if their home Wi-Fi networks were encrypted, or admitted to using an unencrypted network.

"People wouldn’t go out and leave their front door unlocked, but many are still surfing the internet without adequate protection for their personal information," claimed Steve Wood, head of policy at the ICO. "The fact that Google’s Street View cars were able to pick up payload data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks as a by-product of their signals mapping exercise has further highlighted that more people need to take their Wi-Fi security settings seriously."

"Securing wireless networks is paramount, but these statistics show that people are still falling short," Chris Davies of networking equipment manufacturer D-Link told thinq_ in response to ICO's announcement. "There is no doubt that in the past setting up security on wireless networks could be tricky, but this is no longer the case with most wireless products. Security can be set up in a couple of minutes using set-up wizards, with no prior technical knowledge required."

To help the terminally bewildered protect their network from misuse, the ICO has published a brief guide to checking the security settings of Wi-Fi access points and routers, along with a checklist of settings that should be enabled for maximum protection.