Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

School

School of Computer and Security Science

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Craig Valli

Abstract

Research on the use of 802.11 wireless networking and wireless security has in the past focused predominantly on corporations who generally have access to resources specifically allocated to computer and network security. Research has also focused on identifying the flaws in wireless network security, and developing stronger and safer methods which may be incorporated. To date there has been a lack of research into determining what the individual at home perceives towards wireless security. As broadband Internet connections are now predominantly chosen, the amount of available bandwidth open to exploitation is significantly higher than the now becoming obsolete dialup connection. The numerous researched yet unpublicised wireless network threats, is leaving an unaware individual vulnerable to various, easy to administer attacks which may result in identity theft or significant monetary loses. To develop solutions aimed at protecting the home individual utilising 802.11 wireless networks, information needs to be collected on what individuals already know and perceive. Hence the scope of this study was to analyse the attitudes and perceptions individuals have towards wireless security. Utilising a quantitative online survey instrument the study was directed to those who specifically had an Internet connection and had enabled an 802.11a\b\g standard wireless network. Over the course of 21 days the online survey instrument had been completed by 163 anonymous respondents who volunteered to complete the questionnaire consisting of 29 questions. The majority of respondents had utilised a broadband connection leaving a large amount of bandwidth available for exploitation. The results indicate that respondents are well aware of the basics of wireless networking. However, when confronted with specifics of wireless security (utilised authentication and encryption) their perception was not valid. The proactive behaviour respondents had towards wireless security varied and were dependant upon their level of concern and experience in wireless networking. There is little distinction between those respondents who had worked in the IT industry and those who have not. The results from the study confirm with similar studies undertaken on the topic of computer security, also looking at the level of knowledge respondents had. The sources used by respondents vary significantly, although the study did not find that a particular source made a significant contribution to a user's perceived security.

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