Home computers, laptops and smart phones can be easily broken into in Iceland, due to low levels of personal security.
The television news discussion show Kastljósið, shown on RÚV, demonstrated with a hired computer security expert. With great ease, the expert was able to tap into the wireless networks of people at home and follow their net traffic. He was also able to obtain their passwords and gain access to their email.
A similar experiment was done in public, wherein the expert was able to gain access to someone else’s laptop using a café’s wireless. He said it would be just as easy to break into a smart phone the same way.
Overall, the expert said he believes most Icelanders exercise a low level of security when it comes to their computer use.
There are, however, a number of measures people can take to increase their security. Passwords – whether to log into your computer, your emails, or for access to your home wireless network – should be a nonsensical combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. Using a name or a word is a bad idea – there is hacking software which can go through an entire dictionary of words looking for a possible match within a matter of seconds.
Passwords should also be changed regularly, to avoid “brute force” attacks – attempts at cracking a password by simply throwing combinations of letters and numbers at the machine.
In public, be aware that using freely available wireless can leave your web traffic open to “packet sniffers” such as Wireshark, which can see where you go online and, in some cases, what you type. Never engage in sensitive online work – such as paying your bills or buying things by credit card – on a public wireless network.