• Ou Ming
  • Friday, September 21, 2007

    ...and now for something different (WiFi and the will to connect)

    I came across this very interesting post today. I know that everyone is used to a different type of content in the blog, but I think this is very interesting.

    This is what it is about. More and more devices (laptops, PDAs, the iPhone very soon, etc.) have WiFi or Wireless Networking capabilities. Nothing new here.

    In the beginning when the first WiFi access points arrived (or as the French call it, Le WeeFee), the lucky few who were having this technology on their laptop, embedded or through a WiFi card, could connect to these access points and get Internet access anywhere they could find it.

    The ignorance of this technology though was rather abundant at the time, and people were leaving these access points unsecured. This meant that if i was walking down the street, I would just turn on my laptop and connect to the nearest access point, go on the Internet and be a happy bunny.

    In fact in those days there was a worldwide community of the so-called War chalkers who would literally walk the streets with their laptops, trying to find an open access point, and they would mark the street with an X but which was written out of an inverted C and a normal C (if you C what I mean...). This would then be posted on a website, and you could go there and see the locations of all those ignorant people that would open up their access points to strangers, and of course compromise their security, meaning their home PC, corporate data, etc.

    Sometimes this was proving to be quite valuable though. Two of my most beloved people (M of the blog and J my best friend) have "borrowed" the WiFi access from their respective neighbours, while waiting for their Internet provider to connect them on their new flat. We actually named it, The Internet Tou Geitona.

    Time went by and people wised up. They started doing MAC Address filtering, WEP, WPA, etc. All good security measures to protect their pride and joy of home WiFi. By the way, the other member of the blog, M. got pissed off recently, because the boyfriend of her flatmate changed the password of the access point to GreeceSucks (haha very funny bitch! I hope they changed that).

    But the thirst for wireless Internet started thriving. People were buying laptops with WiFi embedded, and all wanted to make good use of it. But where? In most places you go, you are either greeted with a Secure WPA encryption (no love there), or you connect, open up your browser, and getting a page that says Welcome to our network, now pay 10 pounds an hour for Internet access fool!

    Which brings us to the point. Some hackers are now trying to take advantage of this thirst for free Internet. The hacker turns on the Access Point function on their laptop, and broadcasts it to the vicinity. The ignorant laptop owner who is nearby then opens their laptop, searches for WiFi networks nearby, and finds a network called Free WiFi! As it is open to anyone, the ignorant user connects to it. But in fact the user has connected to the laptop of the hacker, leaving their own laptop open to attacks.

    I have to admit here that I fell victim to this as well. It is so tempting! You see a WiFi access point in you list that says Free WiFi, you wanna get in there! And I did. Luckily nothing happened but I also turned it off quickly, so I didn't give it a lot of chance. So what would happen if I did fall in the trap then?

    Well. Few things. It is sort of like opening your laptop to another person and letting them to your files. Anoi3ame kai sas perimenoume. Also, what this thing does sometimes is install a program that make your laptop the evil WiFi access point. More people connect to you directly, get infected and so on.

    Bottom line. If you see anything that looks suspicious when you are searching for a WiFi network, don't be tempted. Also, even if the name of the network is ok, make sure that it doesn't say Peer-to-peer network. This will be the evil laptop you are connecting to.

    I recently realised that in Greece, evolution came too fast. Within 2 years we got DSL (yes, same thing as ADSL!!!) Wireless LAN (the WeeFee), VoIP (this is the voice part of package you get from Forthnet or Tellas that combines DSL and phone) , etc. etc. And because all these things came at the same time, people are confused. Of course there will always be confused people with technology, but this applies to the switched-on people as well.

    So friendly advice. Learn more about these new technologies. Ask the geeky friend who is always there on the phone ready to go on about it for hours. You will get a couple of minutes of useful info from the conversation. And never be tempted by Free anything (duh!)...



    Anonymous The Passenger said...

    Bah! Humbug! All this wireless malarkey is proof that society is going to the dogs. We never had these fabcy gimmicks in MY time. Ah, those were the good times lass! Men were men and any Internet connection worth its name had a wire.

    September 21, 2007 5:47 pm  
    Blogger Nick D said...

    @Passenger: We never had wireless in my time either, in fact I have been struggling with modems since 2400 baud. But life moves on, technology advances, and things are more connected than ever.

    ...and hackers will always be there, wired or wireless :)

    September 23, 2007 7:05 pm  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    What you are describing here is called a honeypot. There is an interesting book on this subject. Check this link.


    September 30, 2007 9:53 am  

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