Hacking is so easy, even a seven year-old girl can do it, experiment finds
Hacking into a stranger’s laptop has become so simple that even a primary school child can be taught how to do it, a new experiment has shown.
Seven-year-old Betsy Davies was able to hack into a stranger’s laptop via an unsecured Wi-Fi network in just over ten minutes, following a simple set of procedures which could put many of us at risk.
She was able to gain the knowledge necessary to carry out the hack by performing a simple Google search, which returned more than 11 million results along with almost 14,000 video tutorials showing up on YouTube.
Overseen by an ‘ethical hacker’ and operating in a controlled environment, it took Betsy (pictured left) just 10 minutes and 54 seconds to learn how to set up a rogue access point – frequently used by attackers to activate what is known as a ‘man in the middle’ attack – before eavesdropping on traffic.
Security firm HideMyAss.com, which carried out the demonstration, said it proved how lax many people were with their online security, especially when connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks.
“The results of this experiment are worrying but not entirely surprising,” the firm’s ‘ethical hacker’ Marcus Dempsey said. “I know just how easily a layman can gain access to a stranger’s device, and in an age where children are often more tech-literate than adults, hacking can literally be child’s play.”
The company also released research which showed that nearly two-thirds (59 percent) of Britons use open Wi-Fi hotspots, with 20 percent saying they did so on a weekly basis.
The survey found that sensitive data was often transferred when users logged on, with online banking and responding to emails two of the most popular habits to carry out when connected.
“Adults need to get their heads around online security basics – and stick to them whenever they connect to an unsecure network,” Dempsey added.
“As for children, while it’s admirable educators are focusing on skills like coding, it’s important to teach them about the dangers that lurk online, as well instilling a clear sense of the ethics – just as we did with the child that participated in this experiment. After all, as easily as one can now code a computer game, so one can fall into the dark world of hacking.”
“The image of cyber criminals hiding in a dark room in some far-flung part of the world is antiquated – they are just as likely to be sitting next to you in a coffee shop or public library,” added Cian McKenna-Charley from hidemyass.com. “And if a child can perform a basic hack on a Wi-Fi network in minutes, imagine the damage a professional criminal hacker could do.”
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