Sen. Schumer Calls for Greater Security

By Cindy Waxer February 28, 2011

Sen. Charles Schumer is demanding that website giants such as Amazon and Twitter kick up their security efforts a notch by switching to a more secure protocol. As reported by Reuters, the New York Democrat held a news conference at a Manhattan coffee shop where he warned on-lookers that increased WiFi access is opening the floodgates to ill-intentioned hackers who wish to steal confidential data such as credit card numbers and account passwords.

"The number of people who use WiFi to access the Internet in coffee shops, bookstores and beyond is growing by leaps and bounds," Schumer said to the coffee klatch, according to Reuters. "The quickest and easiest way to shut down this one-stop shop for identity theft is for major websites to switch to secure HTTPS web addresses instead of the less secure HTTP protocol."

Schumer’s concerns are far from fear mongering. As reported earlier by, despite the widespread availability of WiFi security tools, nearly half of all home WiFi networks can be hacked in seconds, according to a new survey.

Detailed research carried out for the card protection and insurance company CPP revealed that after analyzing 40,000 different WiFi networks in six cities in the U.K., almost half had no password or very poor security encryption. As a result, nearly 50 percent of Internet users are vulnerable to hackers who can easily strip a hard drive of personal and financial information.

What’s worse, the survey discovered that large numbers of people will log on to an open “rogue” access point in the city center without asking any questions regarding security, thereby making themselves vulnerable to serious data security breaches. In fact, in London, the test found 155 victims, in Birmingham 103, and in Manchester 72, with the overall rate equivalent to around 350 per hour. In all cases, the hackers were able to obtain usernames and passwords from public network users sitting in local coffee shops and restaurants.

"With the growth in the number of smartphones and wireless networks, it has become far easier for hackers to crack usernames and passwords, allowing them access to e-mails, social networks and online banking sites and even to assume the online identity of their victim," said CryptoCard’s Jason Hart, the ethical hacker who conducted the wardriving.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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