Technology

2015-04-27

Technology Seven Year Old Hacks Coffee Shop WiFi
It is always good when you find a free Wi-Fi connection at a coffee shop so you can read the news, chat with your friends, check your emails or simply watch YouTube. But all of this changed for all those present the day when Betsy Davies, a seven year old girl, hacked one such WAP and accessed a stranger’s laptop within minutes.

An experiment was conducted by Hide My Ass!, a company that provides Virtual Private Network services, to alert the public about the risks involved when using free, public Wi-Fi. So to prove how easy and vulnerable you may be, the team at Hide My Ass! gave this task to a seven year old girl.

“We set the challenge to IT-savvy, primary school student, Betsy Davies from Dulwich in South London, who was able to hack into a public Wi-Fi hotspot after she searched and watched a video tutorial online which explained how to hack a network. It took 7-year old Betsy just 10 minutes and 54 seconds to hack into a Wi-Fi hotspot. She then set up a Rogue Access Point which is often used by cybercriminals to trigger a ‘man in the middle’ attack allowing her to ‘sniff’ traffic.” – Hide My Ass Blog Post.

Professional hacker Marcus Dempsey, a person who is often hired by big companies to test their computer security systems, watched Betsy as she made her way through by Googling everything. Of the things she Googled, there were eleven million results returned and about fourteen thousand video tutorials linked via YouTube.

“The results of this experiment are worrying but not entirely surprising, I know just how easily a layman can gain access to a stranger’s device, and in an age where children are often more tech literate than adults, hacking can literally be child’s play. Adults need to get their heads around online security basics – and stick to them whenever they connect to an insecure network. As for children, while its admirable educators are focusing on skills like coding, it’s important to teach them about the dangers that lurk online, as well instilling a clear sense of the ethics. After all, as easily as one can now code a computer game, so one can fall into the dark world of hacking.” – stated by Dempsey.

Researchers who were involved in this experiment came up with astonishing numbers, saying that about two thirds of Britons use open Wi-Fi hotspots with a ratio of twenty percent on weekly basis. It was also noted that sensitive data was being exchanged such as names, passwords, emails, addresses, national insurance numbers, pictures, and online banking being on top of the line.

Cain McKenna Charley, a member of Hide My Ass, said that the image of cyber criminals hiding away in some far flung part of the world is antiquated. They are just as likely to be sitting next to you in a coffee shop or a public library. And if a child can perform a basic hack on a Wi-Fi network in minutes, imagine the damage a professional blackhat hacker could do.  Just as you wouldn’t announce your online banking details at full volume in a public place, we want to remind Britons to protect their information from online eavesdroppers. Although there’s growing awareness of the data we willingly hand over when we click ‘Agree’ to join an open network, many still have no idea just how simple it is to compromise a WiFi network and steal the information of those using it.

Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi!

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