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Oh Hack!

13 February 2002 News

Drive-by-shootings, drive-by-banking, drive-by- McDonald's, the drive-by-truckers (strange band that), drive-ins, drive-outs, driveways, and apparently, even drive-by-dating! - well that does explain lay-byes...

But good grief: Now drive-by hacking!

It seems the growing popularity of wireless networks has spawned a new breed: 'The drive-by-hacker'!

An alert was recently put out by a London-based computer security firm that companies who are using wireless technology for workers to log into networks throughout offices, could be laying themselves open to hackers. In a drive around the British capital, armed with only a laptop and easily obtainable software, experts from Orthus detected 124 wireless computer systems that allowed them to access 207 different networks. The company claims that more than two-thirds of these systems were not protected by any form of encryption!

Tonie Deen, security specialist at South African group NamITech, says that such expeditions are labelled as 'war driving' if it is done in a car, 'war pedalling' if done on a bike and 'war walking' if on foot. Apparently the phrase derives from the term 'war dialling' in which phone phreaks and hackers map telephone systems by dialling a range of numbers to see which respond with tones used by data networks.

Deen, who's company is an IT security specialist, says that predictions are that by 2005 there will be 137 million wireless users world-wide, but that this technology does come with its own set of security problems. Deen says drive-by-hacking is a real threat that can be performed easily and cheaply, "The information is all around you, you just have to know how to grab it."

Wow, all that EM radiation up for grabs. Now, about that splitting headache...

James Williamson, Editor





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