Scientific American had an article recently about a digital camera that helped catch its own thief.
One extremely frightening point has been missed in the article and other posts I have read about the story.
If you do not want to click through to the original article as Scientific American take a look at the quote below. The dangerous point about Wi-Fi is in this quote. See if you spot it.
Equipped with a special memory card with wireless Internet capability, DeLauzon’s camera had not only automatically sent her holiday pictures to her computer, but had even uploaded photos of the miscreants who swiped her equipment bag after she accidentally left it behind at a restaurant.
"I opened up the Eye-Fi manager on the computer and, lo and behold, there are the guys that stole our cameras," said DeLauzon, a native of New York’s Long Island suburb. "Not only is it the guy who stole our camera … but the guy took a picture of (his accomplice) holding our other camera."
DeLauzon received the Eye-Fi, a 2-gigabyte SD memory card that fits into millions of digital cameras, as a holiday gift to go with her Canon camera. Priced at about $100, the card automatically uploads pictures to a home computer or online photosharing service as soon as the user is linked to a familiar wireless network. Luckily, the culprits passed by an unsecured network, whose factory-installed setting matched that of DeLauzon’s home system, and the Eye-Fi automatically shipped the photos: first baby pictures, then the snap-happy scoundrels.
This seems like a nice story about how a Wi-Fi equipped digital camera helped itself get found after being stolen (or lost).
I am glad the DeLauzon’s got their digital camera, photos, and videos back. I am sure the expensive of buying a new digital camera would have been the smallest part of the loss.
So what could be so scary about a Wi-Fi equipped digital camera?
Well, what if the photos were stolen instead of the camera? What if the DeLauzon’s were to find out that photos of their baby’s first bath were stolen and put on a child porn site? Not only could it happen, but the camera did not need to be stolen for this to happen. Also, it is very possible that it could have happened and pictures the DeLauszon’s have taken with the WiFi equipped camera are out there now, circulating the Web. It could be happening to you also.
An unsecured Wi-Fi equiped camera connected to an unsecured wireless network – AUTOMATICALLY!
There are thousands if not millions of unsecured wireless devices and networks out there. They will connect to any wireless network or WiFi device they come in contact with. It is a terrible risk to take.
Let’s see who could have been hurt without any camera being stolen.
Well, I already talked about the photos the DeLauzon’s are apparently broadcasting to any WiFi network their camera is in range of. No big deal for someone on those networks to steal the images for their own use.
On the other hand…
The owner of the unsecured wireless network is taking a risk also. What if the images were of something illegal? Perhaps being uploaded to a Website. Guess where the authorities re going to look if they investigate? The IP address used to upload them and that is going to be the owners of the network. While you may be innocent until proven guilty, your neighbors might not think that way when they hear about the pervert that may be living next door.
OK, how safe are you when you use Wi-Fi?
Is your home or business network using the highest security you can? This won’t stop everyone, but at least makes it difficult for anyone to steal your network bandwidth. You may want to thing about changing the key regularly also. A hassle, but it would help keep your network safe for your computers.
Do you connect to unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots?
You are really taking a risk with wireless hotspots. If you check your email, your password and account may be transmitted in a way that can be easily stolen. Nowadays, an email address and password may make someone stealing your credit card seem like you gave a few pennies to the Salvation Army bell ringer. Too many financial institutions will let you reset login passwords with just the correct email address.
Does your laptop automatically connect to wireless networks – even ones you trust?
There is software available that will imitate popular Wi-Fi hotspots. If your computer automatically logs on to the network, it may try to log on and give your password and account away. The software can be set up to imitate other wireless networks. I have it installed on my own laptop. It should be fun in airports. Both Windows and possibly Mac OS computers seem vulnerable to this technique. You may want to make sure that your laptop only connects where you tell it too. To what you tell your laptop to connect to.
Wireless network security should be taken seriously.
Often wireless networks and devices are not configured with even the most basic security. This is from complexity, ignorance, and laziness. It is real easy to just leave your Wi-Fi network or wireless device unsecured because it probably connects right out of the box without you having to do anything. It is also transmitting all your information to anyone who will listen.
Hey! You, blogging from your laptop at Gate 42! Mind if I add a few extra links on your blog?
You’ll never know. You’re just lucky I’m a nice guy.