Bytes and Beats: A Strumming Engineer

Engineering and Jamming

The Internet Is Scary

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So I was browsing around the internet yesterday when I came across a topic that worried me: ARP spoofing, more commonly known as a form of wifi hacking.

The ARP, or Address Resolution Protocol, is the protocol used by computers and routers to set up network connections to other devices (and typically to the internet). It works by sending and receiving small packets between devices, say a computer and a wireless router, so that both devices have enough information to resolve a connection. Simple and convenient enough, and since packets are typically as small as 28 bytes, the system is very efficient.

Here’s where the problem comes in: essentially anyone can forge these messages between a computer and a router, claiming to BE the router. Your computer, depending on your operating system, probably is open to receiving these messages at all times, and will set up a connection with such an imposter. Then it is only a matter of the attacker continuing to stream the internet to you through his computer, and you won’t notice that someone is spying on everything you are doing.

This scary attack can happen on essentially any wifi connection that someone else is connected to, such as public networks at airports, coffee shops, school, work, etc. For this reason, technical experts suggest that you do not access important information or enter passwords when using a public network. Makes sluguest a little bit more scary, huh?

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