Russian Spies in the US: Corporate Spies Could Follow their Communication Methods

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As reported recently, Russian spies in US used private WiFi networks as a means for secret communications. These networks were found to be operating in the ad hoc mode (also knows as peer-to-peer mode) in which two or more WiFi clients can directly communicate with each other over WiFi links without using a WiFi router. 

WiFi networks provide good data speed, have a relatively large communication range, operate in unlicensed band, and are very popular nowadays among the masses. All these attributes must have prompted Russian spies to use them for secret communications, such as data swap between laptops. The secrecy is guaranteed because while using a self-owned private WiFi, one can evade the use of traceable internet and cellular data networks and also the physical monitoring of surveillence cameras.

The use of private WiFi by these Russian spies is just another version of a previous incident where terrorists used an unsecured private WiFi network belonging to another residence for sending emails. This reflects the point that WiFi networks are being increasingly exploited by spies and terrorists for their convenience in  following ways: 

  • By logging into a private unsecured or poorly secured WiFi network owned by someone else
  • By creating a self owned private WiFi network for secure communications 
Corporations should also be alarmed by such incidents because corporate spies or disgruntled employees can also establish a private WiFi network (using ad hoc mode or stealthier WiFi infrastructure methods) within the corporate premises, to pass on the secretly collected confidential information or give corporate access to someone located outside the physical location.
Also, spies can hack into corporate networks by logging into unsecured/poorly secured corporate WiFi if the signals are available at unintended locations, such as outside the building.
Such incidents can be a bigger security risk in cases where the corporate building/office is situated within small distances from roads and other office buildings. Further, to avoid these incidents, corporate administrators should ensure a properly secured WiFi deployment.
In addition, admins should consider the deployment of a sophisticated WiFi monitoring solution that can keep an eye on operational  p rivate WiFi networks, which can be setup by a spy or a disgruntled employee within the premises to carry out his or her perhaps malicious intentions.

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