Wardriving in London 2007
by Alexander Gostev - Senior Virus Analyst, Kaspersky Lab, VirusList - Friday, 1 June 2007.
Conducting regular research into WiFi networks and wireless protocols can help us gain a better understanding of the true state of affairs in this area. When possible, we try to shed some light on these issues in our articles in order to keep computer users informed. Our research focuses on WiFi hotspots and mobile devices supporting Bluetooth.

We hare already published overviews of wireless networks in the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, networks running during CeBIT 2006, and the results of our research from London, Paris and Warsaw.

One year after our first London study, we returned to the city in order to collect new data and evaluate recent developments for ourselves. We also wanted to see if, based on our data from November 2006, Paris would still hold the record as the best-connected city.

The research was conducted between April 24th - April 26th, 2007 in the London business districts of Canary Wharf and City, as well as other areas of the city. During our wireless tour, we collected data on 800 hotspots. No attempts were made to intercept or decrypt traffic on any wireless networks.

We detected the following hotspots:
  • Canary Wharf: over 400 hotspots
  • Other areas of London: over 400 hotspots
This article will address the changes which have taken place since our last wardriving tour of London in 2006.

Transmission speed

Transmission speed: Canary Wharf

Transmission speed: London

Our research in Canary Wharf shows that the number of networks running at 54 MB was over 82%, up more than 14% from 2006 (when it was 68%). The numbers for this London district have exceeded those for the equivalent business district in Paris, La Defense, where results showed 77% (November 2006).

We continued to see an interesting pattern in the business districts of European capitals: the transmission speed of wireless networks tend to be lower than in other districts of the same city. Last year, Canary Wharf was 4% - 5% slower than the rest of London, and La Defense was 8% slower than the rest of Paris (77% and 85%). This year, the speed of networks in London has increased, but the lag between Canary Wharf and the rest of the city remains at 5% (82% and 87%).

The second most common speed is 11 MB, which is steadily losing popularity. Last year more than 25% of the networks detected at Canary Wharf were running at this speed, and this year that number is down to just 16%. The percentages are even lower for the greater London area, having fallen from 28.6% to 12%.

The number of networks running at a speed of 22 - 48 MB did not exceed 2% anywhere in the city, but we did find devices running at 16.5 MB for the first time.

It's safe to say that the transmission speed of wireless networks in London has increased significantly, and this city is currently the absolute leader in terms of transmission speed when compared to the other cities we have researched. The city's average is 87% at 54 MB, which is in striking contrast to Warsaw, for instance, with a mere 14% of networks running at this speed.

Equipment manufacturers

A total of 26 different manufacturers were detected, which is slightly less than the 33 manufacturers we identified in 2006.

In the Canary Wharf district, equipment from 16 different manufacturers was found, five of which are the most common and used by 15% of the networks.

The equipment of the other 11 manufacturers is used in less than 10% of the networks.

The volume of unidentified equipment (Fake, Unknown, or User Defined) increased from 10% in 2006 to 76%.


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