Wireless Security: Wi-Fi Hacking Burglars Get Busted

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Robert Siciliano

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In Seattle 3 men have been arrested for hacking the wireless networks of over a dozen businesses along with 41 burglaries.

They are alleged to have stolen at least $750,000 in funds, computer equipment and other items.

SeattlePI reported their Wi-Fi hacking techniques included “wardriving,” in which hackers mount a high-strength Wi-Fi receiver inside a car and search for networks that can be penetrated.

Once a Wi-Fi network is located through wardriving, hackers can remotely watch for information that may reveal the network’s security setup and vulnerabilities.

Police said they used sophisticated electronic equipment to break through networks using a 12-year-old security algorithm — Wired Equivalent Privacy, or WEP protection.

Right out of a Mission Impossible movie these burglars hacked wireless networks and stole employee and client data. Their burglaries involved stealing laptops they used those laptops to crack payroll accounts and steal banking information.

Once they turned the data into cash they turned the cash into prepaid debit cards.

Wired Equivalent Privacy was introduced in 1997 and is the original version of wireless network security. But WEP has been cracked, hacked, and decimated.

Home or office Wi-Fi with a WPA encryption is better. Wi-Fi Protected Access is a certification program that was created in response to several serious security vulnerabilities researchers found in WEP, the previous system. WPA and WPA2 are tougher to crack, but not impossible.

Small businesses would fare much better if they also installed a monitored security alarm system with cameras. It’s not enough to lock doors especially if there is thousands of dollars in technology waiting for a burglar to take it.

Robert Siciliano is a personal and small business security specialist to ADT Small Business SecurityDisclosures

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