Monday, August 06, 2007

The Dangers of "Free" WiFi

I just came across this blog describing how easy it was for a guy at the Black Hat Hacking Conference in Las Vegas to hijack some poor schmo's gMail account. For extra measure, the guy, Robert Graham (CEO Errata Security) has helpfully given the two tools (Ferret and Hamster) away so that now scores of teenages with nothing better to do can now hijack your identity when you're at the local Starbucks or in an airport lounge.

There are, of course, things you can do to protect yourself - at least as far as email security goes. But, the technology that old Bob showed off can be used to sniff all packets and all cookies that emanate from your wireless device (yes, even your beloved iPhone or Treo or gawd-aweful HP Windows brick).

It's sort of a sign of the times, I guess. We've finally crawled out of the primordial ooze in terms of technology and widely available (and sometimes free or low cost) WiFi - no sooner to be forced back by folks with nothing better to do all day than come up with ways to screw things up.

Yes, packet sniffing is nothing new and people have been doing it for years. Yes, any moron who uses a public WiFi hotspot shouldn't login to their unencrypted email account or expect that everything they do is not being watched/monitored/recorded/hijacked.

I'm all for making the airwaves safer for everyone, and I'm all for public WiFi, and for Web 2.0 applications that "function like a desktop application." I'm just not very happy that every time we turn around there is some joker who justs wants to blow it up. I guess it's just the American way.

I'm sure glad I use Servoy Smart Client applications and use the Servoy Web Client over the public WiFi - now I have one LESS thing to worry about.

P.S. It's my birthday today - thanks to my parents - I know it hasn't always been an easy ride, but I love you both very much. And thanks to my wife, Brenda. She should get a medal for putting up with me as we start our 18th year together! And finally, somewhere in the world there is someone that was courageous enough to carry my ass around for 9 months and then give me up for adoption. Back in the 60's. Where ever you are today - thanks.

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