Tag Archives: cybercrime

Dangers of Public WiFi

[Note: This is derived from articles originally published in the July and August editions of the SWCP Portal, our monthly newsletter. Due to the importance of the security information they contained, we're republishing them here for everyone.] Ars Technica tech news site recently warned that public WiFi hotspots can post a security risk to users. It’s not that the hotspots are themselves insecure. It’s the way most computers, tablets, and phones implement WiFi logins that poses a danger. AT&T and Comcast, among others, are promoting large networks of WiFi hotspots which are free for their customers to use. For example, AT&T’s free WiFi hotspots are available at McDonald’s and Starbucks. When you see the “attwifi” network at any of these places around the country you can log in with your AT&T login. The same goes for Comcast’s “xfinitywifi“. It’s as convenient as it is dangerous. The trick is that once you have logged in to one of these networks, your computer or tablet saves the login information so you can reconnect to these networks without entering a password the next time you are near one of their hotspots. This is the window that can let the bad guys in. What the criminal can do to the unsuspecting device owner is set up his own WiFi hotspot using the network name “attwifi” or “xfinitywifi“. But the crook’s hotspot has some tricks up its sleeve. First, it allows you to connect regardless … Continue reading

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Is Cyberwar the New Normal?

The Internet these days is often compared to the Wild West. It, too, is a wide open frontier with endless possibilities, loose rules, limited government controls and not a few rustlers and bandits lurking along its trails. But unlike other frontiers, the Net seems to steadily becoming more dangerous, not less. And there are now armies on the move. Hackers aren’t just computer whiz kids, online scam artists, or even criminal networks any more. Hacking has become a weapon of war. Stunning accusations in a recent report by Mandiant, a US online security firm, provide insights of just how persistent threats from government hackers working for certain enemy states have grown. The company has been investigating security breaches at hundreds of organizations around the world since 2004. Their tracking of threats has allowed them to identify more than 20 hacking groups within China. The largest of these, which they called APT1, for “Advanced Persistent Threat” has conducted vast hauls of information from hundreds of organizations since 2006. Madiant’s detective work on over 150 corporate victims for over 7 years paid off. They were able to identify APT1 as a unit of the People’s Liberation Army of China with a code designation of Unit 61398, precisely located its facilities in the middle of Shanghai, and even named three key developers. They watched APT1 compromise 141 companies in 20 industries, and studied in detail APT1’s sophisticated methodology – in one case, as … Continue reading

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The Right to Internet Access

How essential is the Net? How vital is access to the Internet at all times? Does being cut off impair or maybe even threaten modern life? If you’re one of the many who would argue that yes, the ability to get online is absolutely basic to life, work, society, and entertainment, you’re not alone. And in a landmark ruling, the highest court in Germany agrees with you. Recently, the German Federal Supreme Court ruled that consumers can demand damages – financial compensation – for service outages. The case involved a suit by a man who lost his DSL connection for 2 months. For Germans, the decision places Internet access in the same small class of assets protected because they are necessary to survive and function in modern society. These  include homes, telephones, and automobiles. Consider that: loss of Internet access is deemed as big an inconvenience as losing a car! This means that sanctions denying access may not be applied. German Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said, “The judgment of the Federal Court shows that for an informed life, the network has become  fundamental. It is a realization that the use of the Internet is a civil right.” This is not the first time a government had declared Internet access is a basic human right. France was first to do so back in 2009. Finland went even further later that year when it declared it would provide each citizen with … Continue reading

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