When Wi-Fi technology paved the way for us to live most of our daily lives online, those with ill intent have joined the digital world in order to exploit any network vulnerabilities.The freedom offered by Wi-Fi does, sadly, come at a price.
The problem with public Wi-Fi networks is that many of them are generally less secure than or linked to personal home networks in our schools or workplaces. This is because getting the staff to track and manage it network’s security provides the company with an extra cost, leaving users to take their own precautions–if anything.
It’s not just annoying, it’s dangerous
Previously we saw a threat being hacked by a reporter who found her Deliveroo account and she could see an order being sent to Nandos from the account. The journalist was annoyed but not too worried about a peri-peri chicken order until she realized the perpetrator would have access to information like her home address–then the real danger element kicked in.
From the ‘middle man’ to evil twins
- Public Wi-Fi networks are as easy for hackers to leverage with ill intent as they are for unsuspecting users to connect too. They require little in any authentication to establish a connection, which means they are ultimately able to gain access to an array of unsecured devices using the same Wi-Fi hotspot.
- Hackers invariably use a strategy known as‘ the middle man’ and position themselves between users’ device and the network. The traffic is intercepted between the device and the destination (site) they wanted to reach, meaning that the users’ device believes the hacker’s machine is the access point.
- This gives them unfettered access to every action you are taking while online. From credit or debit card information, personal or sensitive emails, log-in information for social media, personal accounts that may have associated payment details–once they have entry, this information can be revisited as often as they want.
- A similar technique is known as an‘ evil twin’ network. This is where a hacker will create a Wi-Fi hotspot that mimics a legitimate connection; so, while the user thinks he or she is connected to the genuine hotspot offered by the airport, hotel or coffeeshop, they have in fact been duped into connecting to the‘ evil twin’ network using the same, or similar name. For instance:
While connected to this phoney network, all online activity is monitored by the cyber-criminal.
So, what can you do?
That’s how we get to a VPN.
Using a VPN is going to provide you with a layer of protection by encrypting your connection at each end, meaning criminals will not be able to access your connection whilst using a public wi-Fi network.
Here are some other tactics you can implement to stay safe online: Limit the information you share; ·Avoid conducting any activity that requires your personally identifiable information such as addresses, bank or credit card details, ·Only visit websites that are secure and exhibit the https padlock.
·Avoid clicking on suspicious pop-ups or links in emails that ask you to change log-in or password information.