The profusion of wireless communications in homes, in coffee shops and even on battlefields presents us with fantastic new conveniences -- but also new security problems. Indiana University computer scientist Markus Jakobsson will discuss "stealth" attacks over wireless networks, which can disrupt communications and endanger personal information. One such attack is "denial of service," in which devices are overloaded with so much incoming information they cease functioning properly.
Jakobsson will also discuss "man in the middle" attacks, in which a miscreant invisibly inserts himself into the communication path of two wireless devices, such as cell phones, PDAs, or wireless-enabled laptop computers.
By manipulating software protocols, a man-in-the-middle attacker can silently pass information between two legitimate points while listening in to the wireless conversation, gleaning sensitive personal information or just plain sabotaging the connection. Stealth attacks over wireless networks threaten the security of personal information, online banking and purchasing. Such attacks may also endanger military personnel, who increasingly rely on wireless communications for maneuvering orders and reconnaissance. Defending against stealth attacks in the civilian sector, Jakobsson argues, will require a concerted effort to develop and distribute new software.
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