Monday, May 24, 2010

New security threat for wireless networks in Internet cafe

Your internet cafe might be housing a potential security threat-called the Typhoid adware, it works in similar fashion to Typhoid Mary, the first identified healthy carrier of typhoid fever who spread the disease to dozens of people in the New York area in the early 1900s.

Adware is software that sneaks onto computers often when users download things, for example fancy tool bars or free screen savers, and it typically pops up lots and lots of ads.

Typhoid adware needs a wireless Internet cafe or other area where users share a non-encrypted wireless connection.

The study demonstrated how Typhoid adware works as well as presents solutions on how to defend against such attacks.

Typically, adware authors install their software on as many machines as possible.

But Typhoid adware comes from another person's computer and convinces other laptops to communicate with it and not the legitimate access point.

Then the Typhoid adware automatically inserts advertisements in videos and web pages on the other computers.

Meanwhile, the carrier sees no advertisements and doesn't know that he or she is infected, just like symptomless Typhoid Mary.

U of C researchers have come up with a number of defenses against Typhoid adware.

One is protecting the content of videos to ensure that what users see comes from the original source. Another is a way to "tell" laptops they are at an Internet cafe to make them more suspicious of contact from other computers.

The study was presented at the EICAR conference in Paris, a conference devoted to IT security.



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