No matter where you travel to these days, you’re destined to never be left without a means of contact, with the help of public wi-fi hotspots. Free access internet is now available at nearly every shopping centre, train station, airport, major tourist attraction and even on populated streets. The temptation, to save your monthly data allowance in exchange for simply handing over your email address and full name, seems harmless, right?
Unbeknownst to too many people, by connecting to these open networks you are letting hackers know you’re open for business. By accessing emails and online banking, you have inadvertently marked yourself as a target and made all your sensitive information, vulnerable.
‘Man in the Middle’ attacks
This is when someone within range of the hotspot reach is essentially eavesdropping on your online activity. They are able to intercept the flow of information you’re sending between your device and the internet service.
The information that flows from device to wireless router should be in the form of a secret code, meaning sensitive information cannot be read. Most routers are unencrypted until set up by IT professionals who know how to encrypt it, so anyone who uses this router is protected by this private network. Public and unencrypted networks deliberately set up by hackers don’t enable this safety feature so that they can survey your activity from afar.
Cyber criminals will set up fake hotspots named similarly to reputable businesses. They will be branded and made to look legitimate, the same way in which, BT for example has their access pages displayed. These rogue hotspots then act as a direct portal for criminals to peer into your sensitive information and give them to platform to use it anyway they see fit. When doing so they can see which web pages you visited, any log in information you submitted and hack any accounts.
Tips for staying safe:
- Turn wifi off when you’re not using it
- Log out of accounts when done
- Disable Bluetooth and file sharing
- Only use web search
- Allow auto-connect
- Access apps with sensitive information such as online banking/health records
- Fill in credentials like username/password