Live from SecTor

Having worked in IT for many years and having had to clean up mail servers at organizations that had been used to relay spam and file servers that had been conscripted to be used as repositories for contraband movie files, I know what can happen when you leave your systems vulnerable. So when we added wireless access to our home network, I made sure the SID wasn't broadcast and I turned on MAC address filtering as well as using an encryption key. I make sure to use secure passwords by making up a sentence, taking the first letter of each word and then changing some letters to capitals, symbols and numbers (i.e. "Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow" becomes a password of mha11Wfww@s). However, that's nothing compared to the level of security consciousness of the folks here at SecTor.

Brian Bourne at SecTor

You'll notice in the picture above from the conference that no one has a laptop open. What kind of IT conference has an audience where no one has a computer open? One where half the audience could hack into your system the minute you open the lid!

Seriously though, it has been an interesting conference so far. I sat in on Brad 'Renderman' Haines' presentation on "Wireless Security - What Were They Thinking?" and learned that I never want to connect to a wireless network again ever, anywhere. Really - he went through a number of different weaknesses and ways to attack a computer or device using wireless, bluetooth or an RFID tag. Some vulnerabilities are due to the way the device is configured but some are inherent in the way the technology has been implemented. I don't think I'll ever use my ESSO Speedpass with their RFID technology again without first looking over my shoulder to see who might be near by.

Comments (6)

  1. ye110wbeard says:

    Cool.   But of course I would be the smart alek with a laptop sitting wide open running an O/S number remembers anymore, like say CP/M 2.2 with no wireless card in there to do one thing…


  2. RenderMan says:

    Glad you liked the presentation.  As I mentioned at the start, It is not my intention to tell you not to use a wireless network, but to know the threats and use it safely if/when you do. if you have any questions



  3. Ruth Morton says:

    Thanks Render. Of course I’m not really going to never use a wireless network again, but you did certainly make me think!

  4. Graham Jones says:

    My understanding is that turning off SSID broadcast and MAC filtering is a waste of time anyway. They are easily defeated by the serious whacker. I believe that it is a good idea to change the default SSID name so that the manufacturer of the router isn’t immediately obvious. WPA2 with a very strong password is about your only real defence for the regular user.

  5. Ruth Morton says:

    True, the SSID should never be left as the default. Turning off broadcast and using MAC filtering may not stop the serious hacker (or whacker, as you say!) but at least they’ll stop the casual troublemaker. I would agree though that good encryption with a strong key is the most important part to securing your wireless network.

  6. Ruth Morton says:

    btw…here is good blog post by Steve Riley on why disabling broadcast and using MAC filtering aren’t substitutes for securing your wireless network:

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