Sure, today it’s easy today to find pineapples used in a refreshing cocktail or an upside-down cake. But did you ever wonder how pineapples came to become a symbol of hospitality? And did you know that cunning cyber thieves use a device called a “Pineapple” to pose a real threat to your data security?
Pineapples Used to be Rare… and Fit for a King
History records Christopher Columbus encountering a strange new fruit in the Caribbean in November of 1493. When he took the pineapple back to Europe, it was a big hit… but the quick-to- rot delicacy remained hard to get. So exotic and coveted was the pineapple that King Charles II of England is featured in an official portrait receiving one as a gift.
There’s nothing quite like a royal endorsement, and soon the speediest ships were employed to deliver pineapples to discerning (and wealthy) customers on both sides of the Atlantic. And while some made do with preserved & candied fruit chunks, a hostess who was able to set her guests’ dining table with a whole pineapple centerpiece truly made a statement about her own social standing. Guests knew that their hostess had spared no expense or convenience in ensuring their well-being.
Colonial innkeepers began adding the pineapple to their signs.
Bedposts and other furniture elements were carved in pineapple shapes. The Shirley Plantation of Virginia incorporated pineapple motifs into the actual structure of the building. And today homage is still paid to the pineapple as a symbol of hospitality and welcome in myriad ways.
But if you ever use free Wi-Fi, you need to know that a ‘pineapple’ can mean something entirely different—and that something can be much less hospitable to you and your precious data.
The Wi-Fi Pineapple ® is marketed as an electronic ‘audit’ device. The Pineapple allows the user to become a ‘man-in-the-middle’ between an online device and the internet delivery from a Wi-Fi system. And that means for less than a hundred dollars and some basic hacking know-how, that ‘man-in-the-middle’ can now easily access your online activity.
The user of the Pineapple scans the router spectrum (usually 2.4GHz band), looking for devices trying to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Then the Pineapple itself ‘gives’ the requesting party internet access—actually assigning an IP address. But all the online activity is flowing through the Pineapple—and that means the person controlling it is actually in control of your data. Anything you send over the network—they can see.
Yes, it’s a new type of Wi-Fi honeypot— one that is set up and capable of intercepting everything you view or do while connected.
How common is this technology? Well, the HBO series “Silicon Valley” used the Pineapple device as a key plot element in a recent episode.
The show is about a tech engineer–Richard Hendricks—and his trials and travails in trying to build his “Pied Piper” company. He and his crew have hatched a plan to rapidly expand the adoption of the ‘Pied Piper’ app by hijacking the phones at the Hooli-Con tech conference with Pineapples.
Questioned about the ethics of such a move, Hendricks terms it “adoption through aggressive guerilla marketing.” Once the app has been forced into place, they believe it will stay there because “Nobody deletes their old apps.”
The Pineapple scheme fails spectacularly on the show—but the very fact that this device plays such a central role gives an indication of how the tech crowd already knows all about what the Pineapple can do. And that, in short, is to allow any person with one to steal your data quickly and easily.
So how can you protect yourself? You can always avoid Wi-Fi out of your home or office completely. But if you do connect, remember to:
- Connect to networks only with which you are familiar and comfortable.
- DO NOT enter banking data, passwords, or other sensitive information.
- Delete any unfamiliar wireless connection settings you see stored on your computer.
- Consider using a VPN service that will encrypt your data (SlickVPN is one such service) and make you invisible to potential interceptors.
Hacking of your personal records can cause some real headaches. But imagine what happens if you vital work data is hacked—that can make for devastating losses.
Any company who has data stored needs protection. But the challenge is to protect the data that is oftentimes the most needed data to actually run the business.
That’s where 5i Solutions can help.
5i Solutions takes your security seriously. With data hosting and 5i’s super-secure Cloud Vault, your data will be protected with encryption, network security, and key management. With custom-built identity verification and access control. With threat management, penetration testing, monitoring, logging, and on-demand reports.
All of this to ensure the continued integrity of your data—your business lifeblood.
5i can customize a solution where your vital data is secure, and yet available 24/7 from anywhere in the world. But available only to those authorized to have access to it.
Let 5i show you how they can protect your data– don’t wait for someone to get hold of your system and treat it inhospitable.
5i Solutions. One single, secure point of intake, access, and storage. One singular solution.
5i Solutions, Inc.
Learn more at http://5iSolutionsInc.com