How Much Things Have Changed, Stayed the Same

Sue Marquette Poremba
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Emerging Security Concerns in 2011

As the barriers to hacking are removed, the number of hackers will rise and the hunt will be on for the quickest route to the biggest payouts.

Warnings of the dangers of public Wi-Fi are not new, but the introduction of Firesheep in recent months showed just how dangerous being online through an unsecured connection can be. You know I'm not a fan of doing anything in a public location that could compromise my online safety.


So, it was with great interest that I stumbled across this Security Focus article on Twitter, linked by F Secure. It explains that you can go to the coffee shop to work, and work safely, as long as you do so wisely. The article is actually a few years old-it mentions IE7 in beta form-and some of the tips are outdated because of it.


A nice companion piece to the Security Focus post is this one, which focuses on the dangers that lurk in unsecured connections. Writer Donna Buenaventure lists the following threats looming in public hot spots:


  • Fake or Rogue Wi-Fi: Attackers will open their connection for anyone to use. They will name their connection as "free Wi-Fi," "Public Hotspot," or any other name that can trick users seeking a free connection with a strong signal.
  • Eavesdropping or Man-in-the-Middle: Attacker is able to inject, listen or intercept communications between two computers. This type of attack often affects those using an unencrypted Wi-Fi access point or a free or private Wi-Fi connection.
  • Malware: If the user unsuspectingly connects to an attacker's rogue or fake Wi-Fi connection, the attacker is in control of the user's connection and laptop. It can transfer malicious software (malware) or codes.

No, these aren't new problems. They were issues in 2006, too. But today's threats are more sophisticated and the results of an attack are more damaging than ever before. That a security company reposted a five-year-old article shows that attitudes about the way we use our computers in public haven't changed, despite the warnings and increased knowledge of risks involved. Will we still be referencing this article another five years from now?


Here's to a 2011 of safe computing!

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