U.N. Hears from Wireless Experts

Wednesday, 27 November 2002, 1:45 PM EST

The security of wireless networks is of "critical concern," according to a report presented to the United Nations on Monday.

A collaboration of computer experts from the wireless industry, government and academia, the report said wireless local area networks proliferating in homes, schools, parks, airports and coffee shops are more prone to hacker attacks than fixed-line networks.

On regular networks, information travels through cables. But with wireless networks, hackers with enough time and programming skills can steal information "right out of the air," said Eugene Spafford, an organizer of Purdue University's Wireless Security Forum, which helped draft the report.

"As a hammer can be used both to build houses and to destroy treasured works of art, so can wireless technology be both beneficial and harmful," Spafford told the Purdue News. "The best outcomes of the forum's efforts would be for this report to help leaders make more balanced decisions and to influence the wireless industry to pay more attention to security and privacy in their future designs."

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