Local News

Security Expert Claims Some Areas In Triangle Vulnerable To Hackers

Posted August 5, 2002

— A recent WRAL investigation found many wireless computer networks are wide open to invasion. Hackers go on so-called

"war driving"

expeditions looking for targets. One security expert claims he has mapped out some of the vulnerable areas in the Triangle.

Alan Clegg

of Apex thinks like a criminal. He equipped his Jeep with the tools needed to locate unprotected wireless computer networks. He even has directional antennas made out of Pringles and Manwich cans.

"I do consider myself a hacker, but not one of the dark side. I don't go in. I don't break into people's networks," he said.

Instead, Clegg uses what he finds to point out vulnerabilities to companies.

"I was amazed. I really did not expect there to be this much network access," he said.

Clegg has mapped out close to 2,000 open networks around the Triangle, two-thirds of which show no encryption. Without other security measures, it means hackers could steal personal information and pirate networks to do whatever they want.

"It's right here. There's nothing stopping people from doing that," Clegg said.

InfraGard

, a group facilitated by the FBI, is made up of area business and government leaders, along with computer experts. Their goal is to address domestic security risks, including threats to wireless technology.

"If you or I can do it, then any terrorist can do it as well," InfraGard president Mike Dearing said.

Clegg admits his maps could lead the way for criminals. Instead, he hopes his research will serve as a wireless wake-up call.

"People need to understand that it's not safe," Clegg said.

There are a few ways to keep hackers from getting your personal information:

  • Move wireless hubs away from windows.
  • Use built-in encryption.
  • Disable features you do not use.
  • Put a firewall between the wireles network and other company computers.
  • Regularly test wireless network security.
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