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Computer security leaks uncovered at Swiss firms

More and more Swiss firms are switching to wireless computer systems Keystone Archive

Swiss firms are at risk of having confidential information leaked because of inadequate data protection, according to a new report.

This content was published on May 25, 2001 - 13:43

The report, which appeared on Swiss German television's "10 vor 10" programme this week, highlighted the risk of unauthorised persons being able to access confidential data via wireless computer networks.

In the past year more than 1,000 Swiss firms have switched to wireless networks connecting laptop computers. But the new technology is making it easier for outsiders to access classified information and even read employees' private emails.

The wireless system relies on radio signals, which can be detected up to 100 metres away, even outside company buildings.

A team of investigators found that anyone armed with a laptop and a network card could tap into private information stored on company networks.

Sitting in a car in various company car parks they were able to download important files without first having to give a security password. Network managers were not able to detect that a leak had taken place.

The federal data protection commissioner, Odilo Guntern, expressed amazement at the findings.

"This is extremely surprising for two reasons," Guntern told "10 vor 10". "Firstly the large number of firms affected and secondly the fact that virtually no security measures have been taken."

Guntern said it was up to individual firms to ensure that they met legal data protection requirements.

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