An activist in Sweden has managed to fool top politicians, military officers, and journalists with a clever WiFi trick in protest of government surveillance, Arstechnica reports.
Gustav Nipe, 26, chairman of the youth wing of the well-known Swedish Pirate Party, is said to have duped people at a security and defence conference into connecting to an insecure network — that he was in control of. Arstechnica says the ploy was in protest of digital surveillance by the state.
The Local, an English language paper in the country, writes that around 100 people there logged on to Nipe’s WiFi network, cunningly named “Open Guest”. Apparently the users searched for things like “forest hikes” and checked their eBay accounts while they were supposed to be at work.
The WiFi network wasn’t encrypted and Nipe tells The Local that he was also able to track emails and text messages of the attendees.
In hapless irony, Nipe says the security establishment was at the conference to push through heavier, more invasive data analysis on the public; then notes the leading figures went on to log onto an insecure network and see their personal lives analysed.
He tells the paper: “It is very embarrassing because the data we collected showed that some people were looking at Skype, eBay and Blocket and stuff like that, or looking for holidays and where you could go and hike the forest. This was during the day when I suppose they were being paid to be at the conference working.”
Nipe explains the “scary part” is that unsecure networks allow others to gain access to people who may use the same passwords for other sites. He says he could have “got into the government’s server or used other information to track people’s everyday lives.”
Nipe continues that the data would be stored securely and would be deleted after viewing. The stunt has apparently brought about criticism by some Swedish newspapers. Some have argued Nipe broke Sweden’s Personal Data Act.