Every year, some of the internet’s most brilliant minds gather together at DefCon to discuss the latest advancements in the hacking industry.
Every year, we get scary data from DefCon. This year is no exception.
Today, I’m going to share the top 3 scariest hacking tactics the world learned about at DefCon 2014. These new tactics could be used to infect your system in the very near future (if they haven’t been used already!).
3) USB sticks that disguise themselves as keyboards to download malware
Using USB sticks to transfer viruses is nothing new. But until recently, those USB sticks contained malicious files that were easily identifiable.
In most cases, you would stick the infected USB stick into your computer and your computer would automatically execute the files within.
However, computers have grown smarter at detecting these USB stick viruses and, in most cases, USB sticks won’t automatically execute files after you stick them into your computer.
That’s why a new USB virus is so scary: it attacks the firmware of the USB stick instead of the actual storage unit.
By attacking the firmware, hackers can manipulate the USB stick to appear as a keyboard on your PC. When you stick the USB stick into your computer, your computer downloads “keyboard drivers” from an online source.
That online source is actually malicious and your computer just downloaded a virus – all while thinking that it was simply helping you use a keyboard.
The technology is called BadUSB and it could affect your computer over the next few years. Be careful the next time you insert a USB stick into your PC – especially if that USB stick came from an unknown source.
2) New malware could exploit in-flight Wi-Fi to affect plane navigation and safety systems
It hasn’t been a great year for air travel safety. The world is still missing MH370, and another Malaysian Airlines flight was blasted out of the sky in July over Ukraine.
These devastating accidents have left many people nervous about flying.
If you’re nervous about flying, then you may want to stop reading now.
A security researcher named Ruben Santamarta recently released a report on the flaws of in-flight Wi-Fi and entertainment systems.
A skilled attacker could exploit these flaws to gain intimate access to the system – including the plane’s navigational and safety systems.
While Santamarta believes these are critical flaws, airline safety administration officials have called the flaws inconsequential and exploits would only do “minimal” damage.
1) Hacked hotel rooms
One of the nice parts about staying in a hotel is the sense of privacy you feel when you’re in your room.
Unless you’re in a North Korean hotel room loaded with spy cameras, your hotel room is your own private sanctuary.
Unfortunately, hotel room hacking could become a problem in the near future. Some hotels have started to release mobile apps which let guests receive access to their room without ever visiting the front desk.
While these apps are designed to be as secure as possible, a new report suggests that hackers can reverse engineer these apps to gain access to rooms.
In many cases, these apps are also used to control lights, televisions, blinds, and other “smart” aspects of the room. An attacker could open and close your blinds or crank up your temperature, for example.
How freaky is that?
Every year at DefCon, hackers promise devastating new technologies that will help them take over the world. Few of these technologies are ever as devastating as hackers believe they are.
In other words, you shouldn’t be worried about your plane falling out of the sky en route to your hacked hotel room: there’s a very low probability of that happening.