Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Time Magazine offers funny but disturbing piece on Wi-Fi security

Lev Grossman offers a disturbing “Nerd World” op-ed on p 118 of the June 23, 2008 Time Magazine (the issue on “super-sized kids” who spend too much time on social networking sites, perhaps) on W-Fi security. The short title of the article is “Like a Thief in the Net” with the subtitle “Stealing your neighbor’s wi-fi is unethical, illegal, and not very efficient. But it sure is easy.” The article is tongue-in-cheek (the writer says he is too cheap to pay $30 for a T-shirt). The link is here.

No, I won’t repeat the details on how to misbehave. One motive for such behavior could be fun, curiosity and, paradoxically, laziness. But people who use free connections and transfer personal information (at least over unsecured connections – without the “https”) could be putting the information at risk. Some people (such as sales persons at wireless subscription companies) have said that it is unwise to work on a computer with an active wi-fi connection even personal information is on the computer, even if it is not being accessed. It does seem wise to subscribe to a for-fee service that requires an access key, from a reputable company. It is also possible to disable the wireless card when it is not in use.

I’ve seen plenty of articles about this on the Internet (mentioned in previous posts) but never such a brazen discussion in a popular mass market weekly.

The visitor may enjoy the “Nerd World" blog with Lev Grossman and Matt Selman, here.

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