Laptops have increased business productivity in countless ways. No longer does an employee sit on an airplane content to watch a movie or read or a book. Many professionals are increasingly using travel time to finalize presentations or write memos to staff members or catch up with email after a busy day of meetings.
How could this be a security issue? The example below illustrates such an
While traveling to a job site a LIGATT security team member was finishing a presentation on a flight and all of a sudden an icon popped up which notified her that she was attached to another person’s computer via the infrared port. “Sure enough, the person sitting in the aisle next to me was on his laptop. Another few minutes passed and his head popped up and he started glancing around — he had also just realized that our computers were now connected and communicating,” says LIGATT security team member Merike Kaeo.
The good news is that Microsoft has been careful in deploying appropriate defaults so that it would not be easy for someone to maliciously send you a virus or worm. Amazingly enough, little attention is paid to the infrared port that comes standard with most laptops on the market.
As a method of research LIGATT security team members walked into a Borders bookstore where students were studying and placed our PDA next to a laptop with infrared port. We wrote a script that would copy all of the files from the “My Documents” folder. Our PDA running Windows CE connected to the infrared port and began copying the files.
After a period of time we were able to gain entry into two out of ten computers and started copying files. We then showed potential victims how to go into Windows and turn on security for infrared port. Once files are received on PDA the files can be
emailed to another destination. This could be used in an industrial espionage situation.
How do you protect yourself? The first step in the process is to make Windows aware of your computer’s infrared port. If you’re running Windows on a notebook PC with a built-in infrared port, then Windows will probably detect the port automatically. You can verify this by going into the Control Panel and double-clicking on the System icon. When you do, you’ll see the System Properties sheet. Select the Hardware tab and click the Device Manager button. If Windows recognizes your infrared port, there will
be a category within the Device Manager called Infrared Devices. If you expand the Infrared Devices category, you’ll see the infrared port.
About LIGATT Corporation
LIGATT Corporation is a computer security company that specializes in computer theft prevention, through its other division Technology Crime Institute and Laptop Security Short & Simple and LIGATT Publishing.