Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wireless insecurity

I was recently visiting some friends and needed to check my emails. Sure, I know they have a broadband hooked up to a PC in their den but I'm enjoying being outside so let's just fire up my Windows Mobile Device and see what's around.

Sure enough when I enabled the Wifi connector on my little Windows Mobile device I find a wireless network and guess what? It is unsecured! What does that mean? For starters, free access to the Internet. Even worse they had named their access point after themselves ( ie Susan's wireless). So I asked my friends if they knew any Susan in the street. Sure enough she lived two doors up. So now I know a few things, One - which house has a wireless LAN running, Two - that house is providing FREE internet access to anyone in range and Three - chances are there is a PC also in the house (since something has to be connected to the Wireless/Router to be used with the Internet connection).

If you are providing free Internet access to the world chances are that you haven't secured your router or your PC. So I do a quick check and find that I can browse to the routers configuration page. It is brand I know and guess what? It is still using the default password. So, not only have you allowed someone to access your internet for free, you've also given them access to your wireless router. They can change it's password, change its IP address, do all sorts of wonderful things because you haven't changed the password. You haven't even been bothered to implement basic security.

Next, I have a poke around a bit more and find a PC connected to the router and find that it isn't secured as well. Oh man, given enough time anyone could not only copy all the data from the PC but also view all its keystrokes. Understand what that means? FULL CONTROL! Every email, web site, every keystroke you type could be captured. Think the bank is going to give your money back if funds are withdrawn with the CORRECT password even though you say it wasn't you? I doubt it!

All it takes is one simple mistake like not securing your wireless with WPA and you have potentially let anyone in range into your system and depending on what else you have been too lazy to do, have potentially given them access to everything that happens on that PC.

I see it everywhere I go. Wireless is great as long as it is SECURED. Out of the box it isn't!