For a group of people who should know better, attendees at the RSA Conference -- one of the biggest security conferences in the world -- aren't following the advice they give their customers, co-workers, and friends. As a result, many are not as secure as they think they are.
Analysts at AirDefense, a wireless monitoring company, ran a scan on wireless devices at the conference Tuesday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Of the 347 laptops, smartphones, and hand-held devices they monitored between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., 56% of them weren't secure.
Those devices had been set up to link to insecure wireless access points like those found at hotels and Starbucks cafes. The problem, says Richard Rushing, chief security officer of AirDefense, is that when users are done using the connection, they don't change their devices' policy settings that let them connect to insecure access points. That means when their Blackberrys or laptops are on at the conference center, they could easily hook up to a rogue access point set up by a hacker.
Last year at the RSA conference, AirDefense found that 35% of wireless devices were insecure. But not as many people had wireless devices at the show with them. This year, says Rushing, there are more computers at the show with wireless capabilities, and more of them are at risk.
"It's a little surprising the percentage is actually that high," says Rushing, who is attending the conference "It just shows that there's a huge prevalence of wireless devices, and [people] aren't aware that they're putting themselves at risk."