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How a 7-year Betsy Davies hacked a public Wi-Fi network in less than 10 minutes

Millions of people use free Wi-Fi services at the local coffee shop, Airports or designated Wi-Fi hotspots where they work, make a video call or simply shop online. But public Wi-Fi networks have a pretty bad security record  and this is what VPN provider wanted to prove.

An ethical hacking experiment was conducted as part of a new Wi-Fi safety public awareness campaign by VPN provider hidemyass which aims to prove that how easily one can hack into computers which are connected to these free public Wi-Fi hotspots.

The aim of hidemyass was public awareness but what 7 year old Betsy Davies did was more surprising. Betsy Davies from Dulwich in South London hacked a willing participant’s laptop while it was connected to an open Wi-Fi network in less than 10 minutes.

The Experiment

Hidemyass obtained the consent of her family as she is a minor and set up a controlled environment for Betsy to work.  They build a purpose-made open Wi-Fi network which was similar to any of the public Wi-Fi networks found every where.

It took Betsy just 10 minutes and 54 seconds to learn how to set up a rogue access point, frequently used by attackers to activate what is known as a ‘man in the middle’ (MiTm) attack.  After setting up a rogue access point, Betsy managed to eavesdrop on the willing participants (victim’s) internet traffic.

More worry is that the 7 year old primary schooler used the hacking instructions available extensively online through Google Search engine.  If a 7 year old can take less than 11 minutes to hack into a computer through a Public Wi-Fi hotspot, just imagine how easily a hardened cyber criminal can break into any computer that is connected to such public Wi-Fi systems.

Though the idea behind this in-lab experiment was to show how insecure the public Wi-Fi networks are, users should note that this in-lab experiment is being replicated by thousands of cyber criminals in the open.  So just be that extra careful if you are on a public Wi-Fi network.