Gartner: war drive illustrates wireless problem

Thursday, 5 June 2003, 9:24 AM EST

It's not every day you get to ride shotgun on a war drive in the most strategic and sensitive city in the world.

But that's just what I got to do Monday morning.

Packed into a jet-black Hummer as wide as Massachusetts Avenue, myself, a driver, and three representatives of security services provider Guardent Inc. toured the busy streets of the nation's capital, on the prowl for unsecured wireless access points. Security companies have dubbed these trips war drives because they are an offshoot of war-dialing where computers dial hundreds of telephone numbers in order to find a receptive modem.

Wireless computing is in big demand in the enterprise, and it's up to security officers and IT administrators to figure out how to implement these architectures and technologies securely. Yet wireless is currently one of the biggest security concerns in play, because of faulty security in the wired equivalent protocol (WEP) standard. WEP's encryption technology is based on static keys that do not change and which can be deciphered using readily available software, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance.

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