Smartphone Data Easily Stolen, IT Security Expert Shows

By Matthew Harwood

In a video demonstration with the BBC, an IT security expert demonstrates how easy it is for criminals to set up a fake WiFi hotspot to steal information from an unsuspecting victim's smartphone, among other ploys.

With more and more people using smartphones and believing they're relatively secure,Tom Beale, an IT security expert with Vigilante Bespoke, shows off how mistaken people are. In the first demonstration, Beale shows the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones how someone can get past a smartphone's password screen in a few seconds.

What about accessing a WiFi network to connect online, is that safe? Cellan-Jones asks Beale.

"Unfortunately, you're not," the young security professional says.

By setting up a "fake" WiFi network, hackers can see the data flowing through their network if a person connects to it. From there, hackers can steal information used to log-on to social networking sites like Facebook and hijack accounts. Depending on how much information a particular person provides to a social networking Web site, hackers can also gain access to a huge repository of information that can lead to greater vulnerabilities.

In the final act of deception, Beale spoofs a text message from Cellan-Jones's wife asking for the pin number to their extra credit card.

Beale's advice to people is to make sure their WiFi switch and their bluetooth is off when they're not using them and try to be aware of what networks they are connecting to when out and about.

♦ Thumbnail photo by TAKA@P.P.R.S/Flickr


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