'Set-up is vital' for WLAN security

Brief: Most wireless LAN intrusions could be avoided at the configuration stage, says Gartner

According to research from analyst house Gartner, 70 percent of successful WLAN attacks could be prevented if the access points and client software are properly set up. Its research also found that if the wireless hackers are clever, they may be able to leech a company's resources without ever being found out.

Gartner recommends companies working in areas where there may be several WLANs operating -- multi-storey offices with lots of firms in, for example -- should make sure they aren't accidentally connecting to other businesses' networks.

For the security conscious but not cash-rich, one option is a sniffer – a handheld device that tracks down any authorised access points around the network boundaries. For those with a bit more money to throw around, another option is to shell out for wireless intrusion detectors.

John Pescatore, Gartner VP, said while the sniffers are a good back-up and a handy way to demonstrate wireless security issues to senior staff, they don't make for a permanent solution.

The issues around wireless working will no doubt become more pressing in the near future, as workers rush to get mobile. Research from Vodafone published today shows that 80 percent of businesspeople are equipped for mobile working and 42 percent are regularly using Wi-Fi, BlackBerry PDAs and other wireless tech.