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Hacking Mobiles threat Edinburgh PR

by Chris Fairbairn

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Director of SBRC Mandy Haeburn Little SCOTS smartphone users are being urged to consider how often they leave wifi and bluetooth “On” settings on their smartphones, as part of a series of major steps to keep Scots more secure.

Smartphone users should ensure devices are not set to automatically scan and lock on to WiFi networks – or they risk being an easy target for criminal hackers.

The simple but stark message emerged as one of the strongest recurring messages at a major national conference –Trading Securely for Business – the most comprehensive event ever to take place in Scotland to tackle the menace of cyber crime.

Among those highlighting the important message is SensePost’s Glenn Wilkinson, who through the use of his ‘Snoopy Drone’ was able to intercept detailed ‘geo-data’ from delegates whose phones were set to scan for WiFi networks.

By shocking many members of the audience with instant images of their workplaces and homes from Google Street View, all retrieved in seconds from the Snoopy drone technology, Glenn explained: “The drone is able to hack devices which are constantly searching for Wi-Fi by duping them into connecting to the snoopy device.

“It is relatively simple software used by criminals worldwide – and it highlights an important point that we must make sure devices don’t constantly search for Wi-Fi when it is not necessary or we can’t be certain of what it is we are connecting to.”

The technology targets mobile users with Wi-Fi running on their device, seeking an open connection. Hackers can often disguise as recognised named Wi-Fi networks i.e for example popular coffee shops and chains of well known cafes.

Hosted by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) at Edinburgh’s National Museum, the conference featured a range of talks from other global industry experts, examples of leading tech products as well as dramatic demonstrations to highlight the battle that is being waged against all forms of e-crime.

SBRC Director, Mandy Haeburn-Little, said: “We are all guilty at times of leaving WiFi on, leaving Bluetooth on, but what Glenn was able to visibly show us was how quickly a hacker can gather information together through intercepting data from mobile phones – especially those with WiFi running when not in use.

“The reality shown by Glenn was just how much previous data was gathered this way, so we are not just talking about where people had been immediately before but actually seeing where the audience had been right around the world was shocking. We saw holiday destinations, home photographs and streets with people’s offices on them. This was down to specific addresses. All of this was avoidable.”

“Mobile devices are now the go-to for a majority of the population and they can contain our most private information. As a nation we must do what we can to mitigate the risk posed by hackers.

“By making sure we manually control when we scan and connect to WiFi and bluetooth, the extra seconds it takes is a small sacrifice for protecting personal data.”

The event was sponsored by industry leading names; TrendMicro, NCC Group and Rosberg.

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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is an Account Director with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood PR. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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