Kid’s project on cyber security proves people will click on anything

Credit: KXAN

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — Evan Robertson is kind of a big deal.

“I have one, two, three, four…” Evan says holding up the awards and ribbons he has racked up for his fourth grade science project.

He won first place at Rowe Lane Elementary, and went on to take gold at the Austin Regional Science Fair.

But the recognition didn’t stop there. Evan was invited to share about his experiment at a cyber security conference in San Antonio.

In August, before starting fifth grade, he was invited to speak at DEF CON in Las Vegas, one of the largest hacking conferences in the world.

“So my name is Evan Robertson. I love cats and candy a lot,” he told the crowd of 300 before launching into a PowerPoint presentation about the project.

With a little help from his dad, who works in cyber security, Evan programmed his own mobile WiFi hot spot.

His goal was to see how many people would click on the terms and conditions he wrote. “We made it so no one in the universe would agree to it,” said Evan.

This is an abbreviated version of what pops when someone tries to connect:

You allow any and all data you transmit to be received, reused, modified and/or redistributed in any way we deem fit. You agree to allow your connecting device to be accessed and/or modified by us in any way, including but not limited to harvesting personal information, reading and responding to your emails…If you are still reading this you should definitely not connect to this network. It’s not radical, dude. Also, we love cats. Have a good day!”

He took the WiFi hot spot to Lakeline Mall, Round Rock Premium Outlets and Target during the busy holiday shopping season and on Mother’s Day weekend to see how many people would accept his crazy terms.

“My hypothesis was more than 50 percent,” said Evan.

His educated guess was right on. A total of 76 people connected, and 40 people accepted the terms and conditions.

“Nobody reads it,” said Evan. His dad was not that surprised people would rather have free WiFi than a secure connection.

“When you’re wherever and you’re connecting to these things you don’t know who is controlling this,” said Ian Robertson.

His advice is for people to ask themselves why someone would give you free access to the internet. Companies who do it are not necessarily doing it to be nice.

“Sometimes they’re doing it because they want to see where you’re going, they want to provide ads,” said Ian.

Luckily, this time it was a fifth grader just doing research to teach us all a lesson.

“You need to be more careful because you could get into something or even download something that may not be safe,” said Evan.

He hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps, and continue building on his new found connection to cyber security.

 

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