Security alert: Be careful when using public Wi-Fi

August 7, 2017

Your private information may be at risk.

Who doesn’t love free Wi-Fi? When I travel it is usually the first thing I look for (unless I can spend extra on a local SIM) – but users should be cautious on the various hotspots that they connect to, since this could be a way hackers could gain access to your private information.

Free Wi-Fi networks are usually found in public places like malls and coffee shops. You normally can connect to these hotspots, and you can simply register to gain access. Others need a username and a password that you can obtain when making a purchase.

But other Wi-Fi networks are simply open – and these are the ones normally targeted by hackers to get vulnerable users to connect. These networks are unencrypted, meaning that there is a possibility that someone can see what information you are sending, and this can include passwords and credit card numbers that could be obtained by those snooping around.

Various forms of this bogus networks also have started popping up in places where there’s usually free Wi-Fi. Most of the time, it follows the name of the place’s network, misspelling it by a letter or two where users unknowingly connect to them.

Even the Dubai Police has already issued a warning concerning the dangers of using public Wi-Fi. “Cyber criminals are setting up Wi-Fi hotspots, often with innocent-sounding names, such as ‘Free Public Wi-Fi’, that con users into logging in. They go to malls and make a free Wi-Fi network with the name of the mall or shops so people connect their devices to the network but then all information will be hacked. Cyber criminals will use every opportunity to infiltrate networks in order to gather personal and financial details. Quickly they can extract this information,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Salem Bin Salmeen, deputy director of Cyber Crimes Department in Dubai Police in statement.

A user’s experience was given as an example of the consequences incurred by connecting on a non-secure network: a user’s iCloud password was obtained and after a few days, her personal data have already been stolen, this includes email and bank passwords.

As technologies like these become more popular and accessible, cyber criminals are also finding more complicated ways of conning unsuspecting users – in the end it is up to you on how you can avoid it.

It’s simple, if you see that a network is unsecure (your mobile device usually gives you a warning before you connect) or if you feel something is not right then it’s best not to use that hotspot.

As they say, prevention is better than cure.

by Victor Philip Ortiz
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. When he’s not busy playing with the latest games, Victor usually spends his time collecting Blu-rays and building his own movie library. As the Online Editor for T3 Middle East, he develops and writes content for which includes reviews, features, and videos in addition to managing its social media and web content.