LIMA —Awareness is key when it comes to Internet usage and Wi-Fi, which is what speakers at the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s Wake, Rattle and Roll yesterday morning brought to attendees.
We live in a connected world, Nicholas Moore, chairman of LRITA.org, told attendees, and wireless internet is everywhere. However, when using free Wi-Fi, most data is transferred in clear text which makes it easy to access.
The two most popular ways to attack Wi-Fi are packet sniffers and rogue Wi-Fi networks, according to Moore.
“The tools that we talk about today actually serve a purpose. They can be for testing or security testing, so that’s why they’re there. But often they do fall into malicious hands,” Moore said.
Packet sniffers can be used to when two users are connected to the same public Wi-Fi. If a user checks his email, for example, someone could use the packet sniffer to get that person’s email username and password, according to Moore. He used a popular packet sniffer, Wireshark, as an example.
Rogue Wi-Fi networks, Moore said, pretend to be a legitimate Wi-Fi network. A user connects and the person using the “pineapple,” as it is called, can then steal information.
Paul Burkholder, an instructor in information technology at Rhodes State College, said users log on without realizing they are using a pineapple and not a legitimate Wi-Fi network. The pineapple acts as though it is a home network for that person’s computer.
Burkholder recommends, as does Moore, that users do not do anything personal or confidential over public Wi-Fi. Even Wi-Fi with passwords is not safe, Burkholder said. In addition, he recommends users make sure everything, including antivirus software, is up to date of their computer.
By putting a password on a Wi-Fi network, certain people may not be able to use it but hackers can get the password and still connect, Burkholder said.
“Hackers prey on people because we are gullible people,” Burkholder said. He said that users should always be skeptical or even paranoid about Wi-Fi usage.
Wired connections are always more secure, according Burkholder, because a hacker would have to tap into the wire to steal information rather than just logging on to Wi-Fi.
“We’re kind of getting behind in some of this stuff, and we need to make sure we get back ahead,” Burkholder said.
Jessika Phillips, president of NOW Marketing Group, also attended the event to talk about social media, which she thinks is great but does put the user at risk.
Because a user’s account is free, the social media platform owns what they post, according to Phillips. “Once posted, always posted.”
She recommends utilizing security settings, like making sure only friends can see what a user posts. Phillips also recommended not connecting with other users that a user does not know and not posting personal information, like the user’s address, birthday and vacations.
A good way to know what personal information is online, Phillips said, is to Google yourself.