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WiFi study in Dubai

Dmitry Bestuzhev
Kaspersky Lab Expert
Posted December 10, 11:34  GMT
Tags: Wardriving, Wi-Fi

Why in Dubai? First, I was there recently.† Second,† Dubai has become one of the most important cities in the world for holding IT conferences.

All statistics are based on around 3 thousand found WiFi access points.† Letís begin with the channels Dubaiís WiFi is running on:

Itís logical to see that channel 6 and 11 are used widely; theyíre often the channels used by default by access point vendors. The interesting thing is to see that channel 13 is the second most used channel in the city. Just FYI, the use of this channel is prohibited in the United States of America, but itís allowed in most parts of the world. Channel 13 is being used in 802.11g/n networks, which shows that most of the access point in Dubai are new and probably use the 802.11n standard.

Since most of the hardware is modern it would be logical to conclude that the encryption in Dubai WiFi networks must be WPA2, right? But unfortunately this is not true.

Indeed, WPA2 is the least-used encryption method. Most of the networks are open. Maybe in those networks some additional security filters are applied, like authorization by MAC address or via captive portals. However, such networks canít be called secure and if a user doesnít have their own VPN connection their data can be at risk.

Another interesting point is that many SSID names are hidden and not broadcast publicly.

Maybe this is another reason why WiFi administrators in Dubai think their networks donít need WPA2 encryption. If they think so, they are mistaken, since there are techniques which allow to hidden SSIDS to be revealed. And if we think about MAC filtering as a security concept, any MAC address can be sniffed and then spoofed. So itís not a good security approach.

Finally if we look at the most popular vendors of access points in Dubai, we can highlight three of the biggest: Cisco, Linksys (which is also a subsidiary of Cisco) and Aruba networks share half of the market in Dubai:

There are other players, but not as significant as the three mentioned above.

You may know that many VPN services are prohibited in Dubai.† So if an attacker is able to open a non-protected WiFi network, it exposes† users and their sensitive data.
As we have seen, the hardware used in access points allows better security management, but it looks like there is no a good practice or policy to enforce this. It exposes usersí sensitive data to many kind of network attacks.



2012 Dec 11, 11:33


The first diagram is not so clear because of similar colors (just a notice for next time). But I want to point that so great percentage of wep is concerning. I know that it is probably the old hardware and common people, but in area where I live (westeuropian country medium big city) the situation from 4-5 years ago is almost completly different and there are now rarerly wep.

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