Wi-Fi Networks Vulnerable to Malware Attacks

According to online security researchers at University of Indiana (US), hi-tech cyber criminals could use wireless access points to spread worms and viruses across networks. The popularity of Wi-Fi networks together with security loopholes make Wi-Fi connections ideal for distributing malicious programs.

They further revealed that most of the malware attacks take place within 24 hours of the access to the unprotected points. According to them, during the first two weeks of the attack's occurrence, it could be possible to compromise 55% of wireless access points. It implies that in urban towns and cities, several thousand people could be in danger.

Security experts said that wireless networks become weak due to the lack of general security such as missing on resetting the already provided password, which makes the networks more vulnerable to malware attacks. However, such a large scale attack requires meeting certain conditions, the key among those conditions is installing unprotected routers.

The researchers reached this conclusion after theoretical model attack conducted by them. The theoretical model included attempts to annihilate the firmware within a Wi-Fi router/access point that enables the device to run. According to them, criminals keen to exploit Wi-Fi access points can do so as only a few people put in effort to prevent illegal use of the wireless devices.

Additionally, the modeled attacks were launched in 7 cities including Chicago and Manhattan, with approximately 18,000 access points maliciously corrupted over a period of two weeks in New York alone, the researchers showed.

Besides, the researchers explained via their paper published in 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' (PNAS) that this is a real concern as malware are spreading through Wi-Fi connections.

They added that immediate action is necessary to detect and stop such attacks along with more strategic planning to secure wireless devices in future so that such outbreaks could be prevented from happening or from worsening future technology.

Furthermore, the researchers suggested that consumers should be encouraged to replace default passwords with newly created ones, and also motivated to adopt encryption technique so that wireless-borne malware could be restricted from spreading.

Related article: WoW – A Current Popular Target for Identity Thieves

» SPAMfighter News - 13-02-2009

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