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Hacking the White House
Written by Daniel   
Tuesday, 11 September 2007 12:54
War walk around the President's house exposes some interesting vulnerabilities outside the fence, but solid defenses inside

SEPTEMBER 10, 2007 | 5:45 PM
By Tim Wilson
Site Editor, Dark Reading

I'm sitting with Richard Rushing, chief security officer of AirDefense, on a stone bench that sits neatly between the White House and the U.S. Treasury Building. As we both look intently at the laptop on Rushing's lap, a three-foot Radio Shack antenna protrudes from his briefcase, pulling in transmissions from both of these carefully-secured national institutions.....

Yup, we're "war walking" the White House. We're looking for wireless networks that are open to hack.
As we sit, scanning the IDs of dozens of wireless networks in the area, the shadow of a uniformed White House security officer falls over our screen. He's the first one to notice our antenna, even though we've passed at least eight officers on our walk so far.

Damn, I'm thinking. Now we're in for an hour of police questioning, or maybe worse. I wonder when I'll get home tonight?

"Excuse me, gentlemen," the officer says politely. "I don't mean to interrupt, but what is that device you have there?"

Rushing, a trained penetration tester and ethical hacker, doesn't try to hide anything. "It's an antenna," he says.

The officer frowns for a moment and looks at the antenna more closely. Then his face brightens. "Cool," he says. "Nice. Thank you." And without another word, he turns and walks away, crossing the street.

And that, folks, is the only time anybody stopped us. We walked the entire White House grounds, circling the Old Executive Office Building and the Treasury. We passed at least 20 security officers while Rushing pointed the wireless antenna out of his briefcase (it's that little white box you see in the photo). Several officers appeared to notice it; only one of them said anything.

It could be that they knew what we were doing and didn't care, confident in the White House's wireless defenses. Or it could be that they saw it and didn't know what they were looking at. Either way, it didn't make me feel more confident in the security of our national institutions.

As it turned out, however, the White House's wireless defenses -- at least inside the fences -- were pretty sound. On a one-hour walk around the grounds, Rushing was able to collect data on 104 wireless networks. The antenna discovered 66 wireless access points, and roughly 90 stations connected to them.... Much More

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