This $5 device can hack your password-protected computer in seco - KCTV5

This $5 device can hack your password-protected computer in seconds

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Hackers are finding new ways to break into computers to steal personal information, but a new method involves a device that costs less than a cheeseburger. (KCTV5) Hackers are finding new ways to break into computers to steal personal information, but a new method involves a device that costs less than a cheeseburger. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Hackers are finding new ways to break into computers to steal personal information, but a new method involves a device that costs less than a cheeseburger.

The $5 Raspberry Pi Zero is the smallest and cheapest of a line of computers made by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Burton Kelso, a Kansas City tech expert, says Raspberry Pi computers are popular among students and hobbyists who want to experiment with the latest tech. 

"It's kind of a throwback," Kelso explains. "It definitely gives kids an opportunity to mess around with technology, and they're pretty darn cheap, too."

The Pi Zero is smaller than a credit card but can act as a fully functioning computer capable of running games like Minecraft, accessing the Internet and building simple computer programs. But the same computers have become popular among hackers. 

"These cyber criminals are professional organizations," Kelso said. "Their goal is to find whatever method they can use to get consumer or business information."

Recently, programmer Samy Kamkar released a program called PoisonTap designed to exploit locked computers left unattended and connected to the Internet. Kamkar is a hacker, entrepreneur and activist who designed the program to show how easy the process can be.

According to Kamkar's website, PoisonTap tricks a computer by pretending to be an Internet router. The device relies on proximity. It is designed to be plugged into an unattended computer's USB port. In about a minute, it temporarily hijacks a computer's Internet traffic to steal valuable Internet data. The site claims the software even works on locked computers.

The program is also easy to use. Kamkar has written code that can be copied and pasted into a programming terminal. With very little code knowledge, a novice could easily install the program with a few video tutorials, and how-to articles widely available online.

Kelso and other cybersecurity experts say users can protect themselves from such devices by never leaving their computers unattended in public places like coffee shops and airports. Other computer safety tips include only connecting to familiar websites and wireless networks.

Kelso adds that knowledge can help consumers stay on top of new hacking methods.

"Cybercriminals are actively seeking your information out there," he said. "People need to be aware of the ways they're doing it."

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