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Beware "Free WiFi"!


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#1 Dan Coplan

Dan Coplan

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 12:33 AM

Just found out that some people are establishing fake free internet access connections over wireless networks - commonly in airports. Some of this may just be for a prank but others could be doing this to gain access to your computer.

I experienced this recently when I saw "Free Public WiFi" show up as an available network on my computer. I thought it odd that it showed up as a computer-to-computer network but tried it anyway. No internet access. At another airport I was then alerted to the scam. Beware!

DC
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#2 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 02:12 PM

Just found out that some people are establishing fake free internet access connections over wireless networks - commonly in airports. Some of this may just be for a prank but others could be doing this to gain access to your computer.

I experienced this recently when I saw "Free Public WiFi" show up as an available network on my computer. I thought it odd that it showed up as a computer-to-computer network but tried it anyway. No internet access. At another airport I was then alerted to the scam. Beware!


Unfortunately Dan and others this is not all that new. In my former days toying around with War Chalking I was amazed at how many open or easily opened WiFi networks are out there. Using a freeware program called Mac Stumbler it is easy to find hundreds if not thousands of open WiFi systems. You can set it up to work with a GPS and simply drive down the street connected to your laptop while it tracks and maps all WiFi signals by name and location. I think there is a Palm version of that now too. If you don't mind installing a Linux partition on your Mac laptop (or Parallels Virtualization on Mac/Intels) you can download a free Packet Sniffer that will within a few minutes depending on the activity of the system, sniff out any non-encrypted password and a few Packet Sniffers that will go beyond that. PC users have hundreds of options for these freeware programs.

Most people leave their laptop wireless on all the time and I've found upwards of 40 accessible laptops on airplanes in-flight. It doesn't take much to exploit that if it were something someone wanted to do. For me it was always more like an easter egg hunt for RF, for some people it's malicious. Turn your wireless off if you're not using it, plus it saves battery power. On your Mac be sure to turn off Sharing.

The other vulnerability is in your home wireless system. You've all heard this before: Please set a password; any password. The default passwords of commercially available wireless systems are well known and I doubt 1 out of 10 people ever change or use them. It is all too easy and smart for your neighbor to use YOUR wireless and traceable IP address to download and serve all their pirated music or porn or whatever, while keeping their own system IP "clean".
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#3 thomas-english

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 03:18 PM

I would love to buy a router that enabled 90% of the bandwidth to have a password and 10% to be free for anyone to access. I would love that.

Thanks for the well put tip s though! Very informative... my site gopt hacked this week... at least someone bothered to update it! :D
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