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Thought Leadership | Jul 18th, 2011

How Hard Is It to Hack Wifi?

Kent Lawson

From my conversations, with customers, friends – and even my mother, it is clear that most people think that hacking wifi requires a lot of expertise.

It takes a geek, right?

Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. There are plenty of free software tools out there, including some 20,000 YouTube videos showing how to use them.

What's really interesting is a small experiment conducted by a UK company called CPPGroup.

As reported by eSecurityPlanet, CPP simply showed volunteers a fourteen minute video on how to conduct a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack.

As we have previously reported, MITM allows a hacker to view all communication between a laptop and the Internet -- unless it is encrypted, of course.

The volunteers, which included a TV producer, a baker, and a retiree, were then able to turn their own, ordinary laptops into hacking devices. Within minutes, they could surreptitiously access login details, including passwords, for email accounts, social networking sites, and online shopping sites.

How much of this really goes on? Does it really matter? To find out, CPPGroup also commissioned a survey of UK Internet users.

They found that:

  • One in four people have had their personal emails intercepted.
  • 16% have had their social networking profiles hacked.
  • One in five have had their eBay accounts hacked.
  • 10% have had money or loans taken out in their names.

As eSecurityPlanet concludes, “The Golden Rule is that unless you know your connection is secure, do not communicate any information or data that you wouldn't feel comfortable shouting across a crowded room.”

You are safe on your home wifi network (assuming you have it set up properly) or on your network at work. Everywhere else, the only way to protect yourself is with a personal VPN, such as PRIVATE WiFi™.

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