A Kit Kat for your life?

July 2009 News & Events

In next month’s issue you will see a review I am writing about a new surveillance product from Space TV, as well as a potential review of a couple of IP cameras from other companies. I say potential as the person doing the camera review is having too much fun with the products to actually write something, but we will get there eventually.

The product I am reviewing is a watch. Not just any watch, it has the capacity to record hours of video surreptitiously as well as take pictures and simply copy the results to a computer at a later time via a USB cable. I was initially sceptical that the device would record anything that was usable, but I was wrong. More in the next issue.

The first point of mentioning the watch here is to highlight the amazing things that can be done in the security market by anyone. This watch can record a strategy plan, take pictures of contact lists and almost any kind of industrial espionage. Once you get the hang of it, you can get relatively good images without anyone knowing. I even told some people about the watch and showed it off while proceeding to ‘spy’ on them and record conversations and computer screens without their being in the slightest bit suspicious – perhaps I have an innocent face.

The second point to mentioning this now is to highlight how easy it is to steal information from a company without anyone being the wiser. If I can do an amateur job minutes after getting the device, imagine how simple it is for a skilled person with a budget to get any information they want.

How often do people walk away from computer screens with customer lists or invoices on the screen? How often do executives have loud conversations on cellphones or sit in the business lounge of any airport with sensitive data on their laptop screens available to anyone looking over their shoulder? Sure they look important to themselves, but they are suckers for information crooks.

The common comeback to this point of view is to question who will be following you around to get a little bit of data displayed on your screen or to find out when your next strategy meeting is as you scream it over your cellphone. Very true, but when collecting information, little bits collected here and there make a damaging whole when it is customers you are losing because a competitor suddenly knows your margins and undercuts you at every turn.

Of course, the idea of espionage may be a little farfetched and I may simply have raised it as a result of my playing with the watch. Why should I buy gadgets and follow you around or even hack into your server when a five-minute conversation with one of your staff members will get me their username, password and access to all I need. Social engineering works, almost every time.

There was a study in the UK a couple of years ago in which male commuters on London’s tubes gave a pretty woman their usernames and passwords just because they asked. The hard cases had to be bribed with a chocolate. A similar survey done more recently showed times have changed. Today you need to offer a slap-up dinner instead of a Kit Kat. Do not miss the next issue.

Andrew Seldon



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