Cyber-Threats Pose Challenges for NATO Summit in Chicago

Occupy Wall Street is
expected to protest alongside the anti-globalization movement. Traffic
will induce migraines
. Some schools have rescheduled their proms. But an
onslaught of cyber-attacks and WiFi freeloading will likely be the nastiest
cherry on the NATO Summit pie, security experts say.

This, the first-ever North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit to
be held in the United States, outside of Washington D.C., will take place on
May 20 and 21 in Chicago.

Cyber-headaches may include
attackers targeting laptops and smartphones or freeloaders piggybacking on WiFi
signals, security experts told the Chicago

Beyond that, the Sun-Times reports that Internet,
wireless voice and even electrical outages might occur, and that all Chicagoans
should prepare by backing up their data.

“Political activism and any
type of social unrest manifest themselves first in cyber-space,” Tom
Kellermann, vice president of cyber-security for Trend Micro, in Cupertino,
Calif., told the paper.  “Whether it’s an
anarchy movement, war opponents, terrorist groups, state-actor groups or
criminal groups, they become much more active around these types of events.”

Kellermann, a former member
of the president’s Commission on Cybersecurity, spoke at a cloud computing
conference in Chicago last week.

Here are security experts’
recommendations to stay safe online during the Summit:

  • Avoid using WiFi
    or sharing your location via Foursquare or other check-in services near the
    event. Cyber-criminals can use location data for man-in-the-middle attacks
    against neighborhood access points, Kellermann noted. These attacks involve
    active eavesdropping, in which the attacker makes independent connections with
    the victims and relays messages between them, leading victims to believe
    they’re talking directly to each other over a private connection, when in fact
    the entire conversation is controlled by the attacker.
  • Those in the
    summit area should update their antivirus software. “The cyber-attacks will be
    against users, folks and entities that support the NATO event,” Kellermann told
    the Sun-Times. “There will be targeted
    attacks via email and social media against people working security, catering,
    hospitality—potentially any participant in the event.”
  • Smartphone users
    should password-protect their WiFi hot spots so freeloaders can’t jump on their
    signals, Karl Volkman, chief technology officer at SRV Network, in Chicago,
    told the Sun-Times.
  • The FBI is
    warning travelers that staying in a hotel won’t keep you safe. The Internet
    Crime Complaint Center (of which the FBI is a member) on May 8 issued a warning about
    attackers installing malware through pop-up windows while a traveler is linking
    to a hotel’s Internet connection.

The FBI recommends these
safety precautions when staying in hotels for all government, private industry
and academic personnel, particularly when traveling abroad:

  • Use extra caution
    before updating software products on a hotel Internet connection.
  • Check the author
    or digital certificate of any prompted update to see if it corresponds to the
    software vendor.
  • Perform software
    updates on laptops immediately before traveling.
  • Download software
    updates directly from the software vendor’s Website if updates are necessary
    while abroad.




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