London's Wi-Fi Crown Is Slipping

The British capital is still the leader among big cities in wireless Internet access points, but security is weak and Paris' growth is much faster

London is the Wi-Fi capital of the world but is still falling behind on wireless security, according to a survey unveiled today.

The survey of London, New York and Paris by security firm RSA found that London had the most wireless internet access points, with 12,276 detected – beating the number in New York by more than 3,000.

But growth in the number of access points has slowed in the UK capital, standing at 72 per cent for 2008 compared to 160 per cent in 2007.

Paris saw the biggest increase in wireless networks detected, with a 543 per cent increase in 2008 over 2007.

Public hotspots designed to let people connect wirelessly on a pay-as-you-go or pre-paid basis saw a 34 per cent increase in London, behind a rise of more than 300 per cent for Paris.

In London, the number of personal wireless access points was greater even than the number of corporate ones – standing at 6,730 – or 55 per cent of all access points detected.

Security was not so rosy in London, with one fifth of all business access points in London continuing to be unprotected by any form of wireless encryption.

The majority of wi-fi access points in the capital also still relied on the Wired Equivalent Privacy encryption or no encryption with only just under half using the stronger WPA or WPA2 encryption.

Sam Curry, VP of identity and access assurance at RSA, said in a statement: "It is also critical that business access points are protected by encryption – even if the corporate network itself can only be accessed via an encrypted VPN.

Curry claimed: "Not using WPA1 or WPA2 can leave the organisations involved vulnerable to whole classes of attacks against both access points and wireless client computers."