A lack of security awareness is undermining wireless network accessibility.

Gareth Tomlin, technical director at KBR, an IT and networking solutions provider, claimed that there is a large take-up of its WiFi services with the public sector and educational facilities but not so much within private sector organisations.

He explained that once a network mesh is set up, students or employees are given login credentials, but the vulnerabilities are the same as a wired network if they choose to share their credentials.

“With vulnerabilities it is more about the human factor. I once saw a letter to a headmaster that had the encryption key on the notice board where the IT guy had written it down,” he said.

“With Windows Vista and 7 there is a tick box to change the encryption key to clear text, as some IT people did not appreciate the security risks. It catches people out, you can offer advice at the start but the human element creeps in and you have to be more aware to keep your information safe. It is not a security issue until the day it happens.

“We find with schools the level of encryption is based on the oldest wireless device that they need to connect. You can create a WPA2 wireless device with a lower encryption version setting but on the understanding that with an upgrade that will disappear.”

He went on to claim that part of its service is to educate IT staff in the options that are available with security, the pros and cons of it and what is it that they are looking for.

“Once it is in they do not really touch it and you can get reports but once it is in you can forget about it. Security is a full time job, a balance between administration and security. Our experience is that people are a weak link and we advise as best we can,” he said.

He also said that capabilities have got better over time with the technology, with very much a ‘get what you pay for' trend in the capability and consistency of the service.

Tomlin said: “With wireless, if you invest you will get back. You can install in a day what a traditional fibre from BT will take 60 days, also with a wireless antenna you can move it and have a short term connection with a mesh for point-to-point.”