Web security company Sophos has been out on its bike trying to find unsecured WiFi around London and has revealed that 27% of the networks surveyed have poor security or are not secured at all.

The process is not unusual but more often a car is used to cruise around sniffing for unsecured networks, and that is known as ‘wardriving’, Sophos has been out on two wheels with dynamos and solar panels and has dubbed its version ‘warbiking’.

Sophos’ director of technology strategy, James Lyne spent two days cycling a route with a GPS-enabled device and assessed the security level of wireless networks across more than 91 miles of central London. the survey looked at nearly 107,000 wireless networks in total. That’s some dedication to saddle-sore as well as network checking.

sophosmap520 Sophos goes warbiking to find unsecured Wifi around London

To put Londoner’s minds at rest, Sophos collected high-level data within the confines of the law to understand what was going on. However, leaving your WiFi open could mean that people with more nefarious plans than James on his bike might be able to get a little too close for comfort.

It’s not surprising that an area with a population density as high as London that Lyne passed more than 1,000 wireless hotspots for every mile he rode.

He also found some interesting patterns in the results from his collection. According to Sophos, residential areas had reasonable default configurations but many devices had default network names like ‘SKY-XYZ123′. They often had strong WPA2 encryption standards enabled.

sophos5202 Sophos goes warbiking to find unsecured Wifi around LondonThe worst offending areas across London for lax security were streets with small businesses. Overall, 9% were using default network names with no random element, such as ‘default’ or the vendor name. The results excluded default names of identifiable, intentionally open hotspots like the ones you’d find in hotels or cafes.

8% had no protection at all, not even a password. They were both home and business networks. 19% were using obsolete WEP (wired equivalent privacy) encryption. Nice and easy access for anyone who fancies a little warbiking or driving to help themselves to private data.

Naturally as a security company, Sophos wants to help customers find solutions to loose Wifi, so to check the results and see what the company advises for more secure networks, you can find more information here.