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Wi-Fi Detection Technology Puts Stowed Laptops At Risk

Credant Technologies : 03 March, 2010  (Technical Article)
Credant Technologies has issued a warning to users of laptop computers to ensure wireless access switches are switched off before storage after a spate of thefts have been reported of laptops that had been detected using cheap and readily available Wi-Fi detection technology
Credant Technologies has warned laptop users to turn off their WiFi signals before stowing their laptop in the boot of their car or stashing their laptop in the office cupboard or desk drawer, apparently out of sight of thieves.

'BT Openzone recently announced it had passed the million WiFi access point mark in the UK and cellular carriers are also boosting their WiFi coverage areas to take the load off their hard-pressed 3G networks, which all adds up to something of a WiFi explosion in the UK,' said Sean Glynn, Credant's VP Marketing.

'This in turn has triggered the widespread availability of low-cost keyfob WiFi detectors for under a fiver, and quite sophisticated directional detectors for around the 30 pounds mark, both of which can be used by thieves to detect the presence of an out of sight laptop,' he added.

Glynn's warning comes after a warning from a security analyst in Jamaica has reported that a large number of laptops are being stolen using WiFi detection techniques for later criminal use.

And, he says, with auction sites selling WiFi detection kit for pocket money prices, it is only a matter of time before this type of laptop detection technique finds its way to the UK.

Credant's observations, he went on to say, suggest that the real focus of identity thieves is the company laptop, which, as well as being a saleable item in its own right, can also contain valuable company data that can potentially be sold to the highest bidder online.

And as the jailing of the Darkmarket carder forum mastermind for almost five years on Friday illustrates identity theft is now big business, he noted.

Glynn went on to say that, because the latest laptops have a set time - sometimes up to 30 minutes - before they go into sleep mode when the laptop lid is shut, it doesn't take a genius to realise that shopping malls around 6pm on weekdays can be a prime source of potential notebook computers, just waiting to be stolen from cars.

'And whilst the office worker is busy inside the mall doing their shopping, no-one is going to think twice about someone in a suit waving their `car keys' around, ostensibly trying to find their car, when in fact s/he is looking for the strongest WiFi signal,' he said.

'You may not be able to totally prevent your laptop being stolen, but only switching on your WiFi when you really need it, and, of course, encrypting your data on the notebook drive, will go a long way to preventing your computer becoming just another statistic,' he added.
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