Home > Exploits, Mobile > Piggybacking WiFi at 60mph

Piggybacking WiFi at 60mph

I was in Madrid speaking at a conference a couple of months ago, and arriving after one of my favorite trans-Atlantic flights (you know the ones, where the ratio of screaming children to adults is not conducive to rest or even playing Angry Birds) I was excited to take one of the citi-cabs which have free wifi onboard to my hotel, a 45 minute journey away.

It was an interesting experience to say the least – though getting completely car-sick in the process, I managed to clear my inbox, answer a dozen questions on Community.mcafee.com, and also catch up with the news care of Google and the BBC. All in all, it was a most productive journey.

Later in the week, I was disappointed to find my cab back to the airport did not have the same service. The driver though was used to this request, and soon solved the problem for me – he just tailgated a cab which did have wifi all the way to the airport – yes, I’m ashamed to say I piggybacked on another cars wireless network at 100kmph through Madrid.

It’s interesting to me given that this week McAfee and ESCRYPT published our paper on Automotive Security. A deep dive into the trends and technologies making their way into modern cars and transport systems.

For a long time now cars have had “networks” present to reduce the wiring burden – Mercedes, Ford, Toyota and others use the CAN bus,  there’s MOST for audio and entertainment, BMW has IBus etc – but now with the popularity of Bluetooth, these previously private vehicular control systems are starting to talk “over the ether” as well.

Obviously, people like me snooping your wireless from the cab behind is not going to cause much distress, but in the same way my friends delight in reprogramming my driver seat in “child position” so when I get in it folds up and crunches me into the steering wheel, imagine if that was to happen to you unexpectedly at highway speeds, or if all the windows were to drop, or the engine cut out, or airbags fire.

Such dangerous behaviors aside, what about just being able to download someone’s phonebook as they drive past you, or perhaps track you as you drive around a city by virtue of a few strategically placed Bluetooth etc receivers looking for idents or SSIDs passing by?

Interesting times indeed. I think “Endpoints” just got a bit bigger, faster, and a LOT more mobile.

You can find the full paper on our site at www.mcafee.com/autoreport.

Categories: Exploits, Mobile
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