May 09 2008
I love my DirecTivo, my DirecTV receiver with the Tivo built in. Without it I couldn’t find the time to watch half the television shows I do, and I’d have to actually, you know, *watch* the commercials. The DirecTivo is about four years old and I’m dreading the day something in the box dies, which I know can’t be too far off.
One of the features of the DirecTivo is a little advertisement that’s part of the main screen, usually a 3-5 minute infomercial. I often ignore it, but last night something caught my eye; the headline for the advertisement read “Crucial Wifi Security tips”. This was definitely something I had to take a few moments to check out, otherwise what kind of security professional would I be.
It turns out that its an advertisement for Symantec Norton 2008, but I have to give the guys at Symantec some credit, it’s also a pretty good primer on the dangers of using wireless hotspots. The video quality isn’t the highest quality, but that may be intentional (or it may be a factor of budget). It starts off by giving some general advice about security, or lack there of, at hotspots and explains in simple terms that the average user might not want to do any sensitive activities while using these hotspots.
I was impressed that Symantec decided to only explain two terms in the video and explained them in simple yet accurate language. The first term was ‘packet sniffing’ and the video explained in a few seconds how another curious patron or maybe a hacker could be sitting in the booth next to you capturing your passwords as they fly through the air. I immediately thought of Robert Graham and the grief he sometimes gives David Maynor concerning wireless.
The second term was ‘wi-phishing’. I’d never heard the term before, but I guess its easier to remember than man-in-the-middle or evil twin hotspot. The video explained that malicious attackers could set up hotspts that looked just like real hotspots but were just created to capture passwords and other account information or infect systems with malware. From that point on the video was an explanation of how Symantec Norton could protect users from these dangers as well as a host of others, but I’d heard most of this marketing before at RSA.
The video was only three minutes long and did a good job of explaining a few of the dangers of public wifi in the first two minutes. I’m actually pretty impressed with the content of the video and if I could get just the first part to use for educational purposes, I’d take it. This video would make a good starting point for a brown bag lunch or other short format awareness campaign at work. There are a couple more videos from Symantec waiting to be watched on the DirecTivo, which I might get to this weekend to see what they offer. Or maybe not; my tolerance for commercials has been greatly reduced over the last four years.