40 Years Prison Term For A Man Who Hacked His Neighbor’s Router

Poster from 1940 summarizing WPA's achievements

Image via Wikipedia

It’s never getting old for me even though I have heard of similar things before, but this story does remind me that my paranoid about computer security in general is a must.  I’m talking about the man who used a neighbor’s router to fake his neighbor identity in a vengeance or vendetta of sort where he supposedly pretended to be his neighbor so he could send threaten emails to couple senators, transfer child pornographic materials over the web, and so on; the man is known as Barry Vincent Ardolf, a 45 years old Minn., wannabe hacker who had an “ethical hacker” bumper sticker on his bathroom mirror and used Aircrack to steal router’s password from his neighbor; he lied to the authorities that he couldn’t discern or had any understanding of WEP and WPA.  Luckily for the neighbor who was helped by a security consultant and was able to log Mr. Ardolf’s intrusions and intrusive activities.  Mr. Ardolf is facing 40 years prison term.

The moral of the story is that when you leave your network and yourself expose to the world, something as the case above could happen to you.  Most of the times, hackers are the people who just want to make money the easy way and haven’t had a single vengeance against you — your lack of understanding on how to use a router or a computer properly is a perfect target for them.  Heard of an easy mark?  That phrase sums up the whole idea.  By locking up your network with a strong encryption algorithm can deter most hackers since they don’t really have any vengeance or vendetta against you.  In the case above, it’s unique since Mr. Ardolf had a vengeance against his neighbor, and the security experts usually refer to such a case as targeted attack.  It’s a lot harder to deter a targeted attack since the hacker who’s targeting his victim clearly has the will to do harm.  Nonetheless, you wouldn’t want to expose your network or computer to anyone, especially if you have a target on your back.

Cases such as people who noticed their credit cards were used by criminals in another country or across an ocean and had their bank accounts cleaned up are happening everyday.  In fact, while you’re reading this blog post, someone out there is having his or her problem with an empty bank account or a huge debt which racked up by a stranger.  The funny thing is that the evil doer has it easy, so easy that he or she could be in the undergarments, sit on a bed, sip on a hot cup of coffee, listen to a favorite song, and log into your bank account using a computer from another country to hide a real IP address.  Nowadays robbers need not to be violent to hurt you even worse.  After a major hack, the recovery for a victim is never easy.  It could be legal matter or worse; it could be about calling up financial organizations to clear your name and put up security measures for your network and financial accounts.

It’s never getting old, really!  This is why it’s always advisable for everyone of us to have a good router where the network can be protected with WPA2 encryption algorithm.  Not WPA or WEP, because those algorithms belong to the routers of much older generation — free software that anyone could download such as Aircrack proves WPA and WEP encryption algorithms are useless.  That is just only one software among hundred others where everyone can easily download at anytime to do some major harm in term of hacking.  Albeit, it’s not always that easy for a person to hack another since specific knowledge is required, but software such as Aircrack isn’t hard to learn, especially nowadays these software are coming with graphical user interfaces.

From my very early days of learning about computer security is to be paranoid all the time.  I think this very same idea may help deter hackers from making you an easy target.  In fact, being paranoid may also help deter someone such as Mr. Ardolf.  Still, I think targeted attack or hack is pretty dangerous, and even being paranoid may prove fruitless when someone who knows you enough (i.e., personal information) can still do great harm or hack to you.  The more reason for you to pick up a book about computer security, right?

One does not need to know all things about computer security to be safe, but one just needs to know some basic knowledge and where to get help when things get out of hand.  So be paranoid, read more about computer security, don’t just talk the talk but also walk the talk by applying security measures to your network and computer, and you might just do yourself a big favor such as prevent someone similar to Mr. Ardolf from hacking you. Lastly, don’t overdo it in securing your network where you sacrifice thousands of dollars and time and headaches if you’re only protecting a home network with one or two personal files; securing yourself only to a point that it’s making sense — I believe some people call that the balance between usability and security.

You can support Essayboard by buying the Cisco-Linksys E3000 High-Performance Wireless-N Router I recommend at Blogmyway Store.  Source for this blog post is at http://www.computerworld.com.

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