Data-Thieving Drones

And you thought only the NSA was snooping at your window. Forget, for the moment, the

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drone /UAV aspect of this story. Consider that the technology for hacking your Wi-Fi network exists in great abundance, and data-thieves everywhere would love to get a peek at your network data streams. Imagine a world where the guy a few booths over inside your favorite coffee hangout is a thief. His pal behind you, too. It isn’t enough that the government is actively skimming “META data”, now you have Joe-Blow doing similar deeds.

Your ability to protect your personal information is becoming more important each week. A thief’s desire and ability to find holes in your security grows, too. You must be careful with how you go about managing your network devices. For instance, the fool that allows the wireless router in his house to broadcast its SSID in the open, telling everyone in his neighborhood that riding his data stream is FREE, is begging for a hack attack. This is hardly different from doing the same with his smart phone. I’m sorry folks, smart phones aren’t that smart. Neither are many users, apparently.

Enter the DRONE.

Hackers and thieves (not always the same) are now able to mount their tools of the trade underneath a drone, and remotely pilot the thing to an unsecured phone near you. Is that unsecured phone yours? They will look for a phone broadcasting its identify and then the game is on. Read the article from CNN Money and see just how they are doing it. Its follows naturally on the heels of “The WASP”, a project report earlier.

Hackers sometimes wear badges. I’ll ask you to imagine another scenario. In this one, a police office is working with his team to get a barricaded subject out of his temporary fortress. This office pilots his drone to the read of the house, sets it down on the roof, and looks for ways into the suspect’s phone. If he can get in, he will look for information that assists the police is figuring out who this guy is, who he might contact, and if they can get to his photos, they might even get pics of his associates. But what if that phone happens to be yours? Next door? (Or even your home network…?) Lock down your phone and network.

The hacker’s tool allows him to spoof other networks. Some agencies are able to spoof a cell phone tower using “Stingray” technology and its descendents, tricking a phone into thinking it is attached to the network.  In a way it is – but the spoofer sits in the middle – and plays relay between the phone and the real world. Sitting there in the middle, it can hear and see everything the phone does. These devices can be mounted in a van or even on a government drone. Who’s to say such technology won’t be found on a hacker drone in a miniature version, maybe this year? Lock down your phone and network.

I will ask you to imagine something else. Because it is coming. A world wherein and security loophole will be found and exploited to your detriment. It is common for Microsoft to release “updates” that fix holes in their Windows operating system. Microsoft does this because very smart people locate these holes and use them for gain. The entire anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-trojan, anti-rootkit, anti-everything industry exists on the backs of these. “vulnerabilities”. Smartphones become more and more complex. This will lead to more and more security holes.  The race will be on to discover vulnerabilities in order to exploit them or to patch them. You are in the middle and your data is at risk. Lock the things down!

If your phone has Wi-Fi, it is unlikely that you can tell it to not shout out its info to all within range, and still maintain the ability to communicate. The only way to keep it quiet is to shut down the Wi-Fi connection. Some will consider taking the 5 seconds required to do that just too much time or hassle. Don’t be like them. When you are finished with you network work, close it down. Better yet, take the data allowance hit on your cell plan and use the cell network. Not totally safe, but for now, it is off the radar of most thieves except those with Stingray technology. Your home network wireless router should have the ability to sit there quietly without yelling out its name. Shut off the SSID Broadcast.

policedroneThe list of opportunists includes federal, state, county and local governments, thieves, neighborhood geeks with too much fee time and corporations seeking advantages. If you don’t know how to secure your stuff, then find someone that does. Doing otherwise is like leaving your home, your safe and your wallet open and unlocked. You wouldn’t do that, would you?

Would you?

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