Norm Morin of NKC Systems put together a simple little piece on computer security for the Lowell Sun that I think is worth a read.
I’ll ignore the obvious issues of viruses and spyware – Norm gets down to business talking about wireless security, and how it effects spam. What is described is a pretty easy-to-do, and likely much more widespread than you might think, process of “wardriving and spamming.” Wardrivers, folks that cruise around neighborhoods looking for unsecure wireless connections, are using those open connections to send out spam. This is bad news, boys and girls, and here’s why….
The hub owner going to see substantial degradation in the performance of their connection, and they are going to call their ISP to find out why – a waste of everyone’s time. But that is refried beans.
What’s really bad, that spam is going to get traced back to an IP address at the home location. If you didn’t already realize, no Tom, Dick, or Harry is safe from getting tracked down and prosecuted, particularly in places like Virginia which have tough spam laws and standup judges who aren’t afraid to throw the book at someone. By the time the fuzz tracks down the source of that spam, the only person that will be home is you. The spammer is at the 7-11 in the next county, getting a Slurpee.
This is fair warning. Lock down those wireless hubs.
WEP is a good start, as by the time someone cracks it, they may have raised some suspicion as to why they are sitting across the street so long. WPA is much better, as that protocol exchanges new keys with your computer every so often, which makes it much more difficult to hack (translation – it takes much longer, so with that time comes more chance of getting Auntie Allie next door in a fuss over someone who looks like they are casing your house).
If you don’t do this, you may wind up in court someday, sitting across from a prosecutor who swears up and down you are a spamming fiend from hell.
For the full read of Norm’s two cents, see Lowell Sun Online – Business.