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Hacking & Technology

Date: 08-23-11
Host: George Noory
Guests: Kevin Mitnick, Mike Smith

The "most wanted" criminal of cyberspace at one time, Kevin Mitnick, told his story of how he turned from a renegade into respected security consultant, as well as offered commentary on various computer security and hacking issues in the news today. As a teenager, he became involved in "phone phreaking," a predecessor to computer hacking, in which he pulled off various pranks. In one incident, he changing the class of a friend's parents phone to that of a pay phone, such that when they picked up the phone to make a call, they would get a message saying 'please deposit 20 cents.' He was also able to acquire the private numbers of celebrities, and once got Bruce Springsteen on the phone at his home in New Jersey.

As computing became more prevalent, he got heavily involved in hacking, before there were even specific laws on the books against it. He eventually went after developer's source code, hacking into companies that created software. This led to his first arrest, when he was placed in solitary confinement for almost a year, as he was considered a national security risk. When Mitnick was released in 2000 after a subsequent arrest by the FBI in 1995, he was asked to assist the Federal government in helping them combat hacking.

At this time, he also began a career on the lecture circuit, speaking about security threats, the way attackers are getting in, the mechanics of 'social engineering,' and how people and companies can better protect themselves. Currently, mobile phones are a target-rich environment for attackers, particularly corporate Blackberries that may have a lot of confidential information, he noted. One way people who use public Wifi (such as at a cafe) can protect themselves is by connecting first through a VPN service, which encrypts their data. Gmail also has a new security service called Two-Step Verification, he said. Mitnick addressed the current generation of hackers, groups such as LulzSec and Anonymous, who take advantage of their linked community to share exploitation tools. Members of these groups have become factionalized with different agendas, some political in nature, he added.

Hurricanes & Quakes

First hour guest, Mike Smith, one of the world's leading experts in the application of weather science, talked about hurricane Irene and the unusual quakes on the East Coast and in Colorado. The current forecast for Irene poses a threat to southern New England, New York, and New Jersey. He suggested people avail themselves of low cost mitigation measures such as purchasing an electrical inverter which can power electrical appliances or devices via a car's cigarette lighter. Regarding the surprising East Coast quake, people tend to think what's normal is what's occurred in their lifetime, but "New York City has had major earthquakes in 1737, 1783, and 1884...and Boston had a major earthquake, even by California standards, way back in 1755," he noted.

News segment guests: Robert Zimmerman, Craig Hulet

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Rare East Coast Quake

Rare East Coast Quake

The East Coast was rocked by a 5.8 magnitude quake today-- the strongest to hit the area since 1944. Centered in Virginia, the quake cause some structural damage such as to an historic Virginia home (pictured), and its jolt was felt from Georgia to Canada, with the White House and the Capitol building partially evacuated. More here.

Bumper Music

Bumper music from Tuesday August 23, 2011

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