Public Wi-Fi Can Be Hacked in 5 Seconds
Public Wi-Fi networks can be hacked in less than five seconds, a new study reports.
British insurance company CPP conducted an ethical hacking experiment in six UK cities, employing security expert from CRYPTOCard to gain access into public and home Wi-Fi networks using freely available software.
The results of the study illuminate what CPP identity fraud expert Michael Lynch called a cavalier attitude to Wi-Fi use, despite the very real dangers posed by unauthorized use.
Sitting in coffee shops and restaurants in the center of town, the hacker, CRYPTOCard Senior Vice President Jason Hart, was able to access more than 350 personal usernames and passwords from unsuspecting users in one hour. The experiment revealed too that more than 200 people in one hour made themselves targets by logging in to a fictitious public Wi-Fi network.
The study has startling repercussions for home computer security as well. Nearly 40,000 home networks were at a high risk of being remotely exploited, and nearly a quarter of private Wi-Fi networks are set up with no security password, the study found.
This is despite the majority (82 per cent) of Brits mistakenly thinking their network is secure, the report said. Concurrently, the report found that only one in 20 people knows when their network has been used without their permission.
We urge all Wi-Fi users to remember that any information they volunteer through public networks can easily be visible to hackers, Lynch said. It's vital they remain vigilant, ensure their networks are secure and regularly monitor their credit reports and bank statements for unsolicited activity."
Hart spoke to the shifting notion of what a hacker looks like, and how easy it is to become a victim.
When people think of hackers they tend to think of highly organized criminal gangs using sophisticated techniques to crack networks, he said. However, as this experiment demonstrates, all a hacker requires is a laptop computer and widely available software to target their victims."
"It has become far easier for hackers to crack usernames and passwords, allowing them access to emails, social networks, and online banking sites and even to assume the online identity of their victim, he said.