Be honest, how often do you use unsecured Wi-Fi for something you shouldn't? You know, just a quick Facebook login at your local coffee house? If you've done it even once, that's too much, because making a secret spy computer that can steal all that data is dumb easy. And cheap to boot.
Brendan O'Connor, security researcher, founder of the consulting firm Malice Afterthought, and mind behind the F-BOMB, has been showing off his newest toy at DEF CON. It's called creepyDOL, and it's like a budget PRISM-box for DIY hackers.
With a $US25 Raspberry Pi and a handful of adapters -- including Wi-Fi -- each creepyDOL box costs a mere $US57 in parts, and is worth its weight in stolen data. But the really scary stuff is what O'Connor can rig up the units to do as a network once they've got enough data to identify your specific gadgets.
The New York Times explains some of the creepy possibilities:
You could spy on your ex-lover, by placing the sensor boxes near the places the person frequents, or your teenage child, or the residents of a particular neighbourhood. You could keep tabs on people who gather at a certain house of worship or take part in a protest demonstration in a town square. Their phones and tablets, Mr. O'Connor argued, would surely leak some information about them -- and certainly if they then connected to an unsecured Wi-Fi. The boxes are small enough to be tucked under a cafe table or dropped from a hobby drone. They can be scattered around a city and go unnoticed.
Granted, O'Connor isn't doing any of this stuff, but if he could, so could just about anyone else. This kind of surveillance preys on insecurity that's pretty inherent to digital world as it is today, so it's hard to hide from. You can read more about O'Connors little toy over at The Times. And you thought it was enough to just worry about the NSA. [The New York Times]