Jeremy Lyman is the general manager of Birch Coffee, the spot that unfairly earned the title of “the new ground zero of casual hacking” after New York Senator Schumer last week held a publicity stunt exposing the dangers of using public WiFi. This spot-on article from Fast Company points out that it’s not just Birch Coffee – in fact, “cafes may be unintentionally hosting a new bastion of Internet lawlessness.” Read on for more reminders about http safety, encryption, cookies, and more.
Tagged: Wifi hacking
The leading cause of identity theft? New York Senator Chuck Schumer has sent a letter to major website executives at Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, and Amazon, urging them to make secure addresses their default for all users (https instead of standard http). According to The New York Daily News, “with standard addresses, easy-to-use hacking programs make it a cinch for cyber-crooks to steal people’s passwords and credit card info at WiFi hotspots.” In fact, the senator gave a public demonstration in a New York coffeeshop by hacking into the Twitter account of a colleague whose laptop was using the free WiFi network.
Hacking unsecured wireless networks at hotels is easier and safer than robbing guests’ rooms or cracking their safes. For cybercriminals in search of an easy target, the payoff is much bigger.
Although they don’t mention Firesheep by name, this video report from a North Carolina news station shows exactly how simple it is for anyone to spy on your online surfing habits in a public WiFi network. It mentions “controversial software” and how — whether in a coffee shop, hotel room, airport, or other location with free WiFi – nothing is safe in a public WiFi hotspot. “Right now I am on the hotel wireless network and these are some of the people who’ve logged into that network,” according to one of the security analysts quoted in the accompanying article, which details how easily anyone could apply software that lets them into email accounts or to quickly grab passwords.
Many people spend a lot of time on Facebook, often “chatting” with friends. But are you really chatting with your friends? Facebook hacking is becoming more prevalent. Here are some warning signs that friends’ accounts have been hacked, and tips to help you avoid becoming a victim too.
Several Missouri politicians (three Republican legislators, one Democratic legislator, and one Republican staffer) have been the victims of an apparent hack attack at the Missouri State Capitol building after using free WiFi instead of a secure, encrypted connection. This article on St. Louis Today points out that a “free, open wireless network for House visitors and legislators serves as a virtual welcome mat for hackers.” An example of an embarrassing status update posted for hours to the personal Facebook page of one State Representative declared: “I love lobbyist! [sic] All the free food and stuff you get. This job is awesome!”
Many things can make travel stressful. Here are some pro-active measures you can take while traveling to will help to minimize the risk that identity theft will ruin your holiday.
Free airport WiFi hotspots are a boon for busy travelers. But they’ve also become a haven for hackers waiting to attack from cyberspace.
Two men who are associated with a loose group of hackers and programmers, and who have previously exposed the security vulnerabilities on Apple computing devices, have been arrested for conspiracy to access a computer without authorization and one count of fraud. The New York Times reports that some think blame could be “leveled at both sides” since the men claimed “all data was gathered from a public Web server with no password, accessible by anyone on the Internet.”
Don’t log on to any WiFi connection until you check out a new hacker’s dictionary that could help you prevent computer and Internet security attacks. Fast Company shares terms in the dictionary, such as “adger” and “spim,” among other terms, that are used by hackers who are “feared by many, glorified by some. Companies are formed with the sole intent of fighting them. Governments dedicate resources to protect against them and hunt them down. They are hackers, and some say they have the only thing keeping them from taking over our digital world is lack of organization. For now.”
Think your home wireless network is safe from intruders? Maybe or maybe not. For cybercrooks intent on stealing your valuables, an unsecured wireless connection can make WiFi hacking a lot easier than breaking and entering.
This is the first “Ask the Expert” column in which Private WiFi CEO and computer security expert Kent Lawson responds to readers’ questions. This column will be an ongoing, monthly series, and this inaugural column discusses VPNs and their importance in staying protected online.