Thefts via public Wi-Fi are grounds for warning

Mar 09, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog
Public park in Brooklyn, NY has free Wi-Fi from a local corporation. Credit: Jim.henderson/Wikipedia.

( —If you are basking in the convenience of doing an online bank transfer at a coffee house while spooning the cream off a designer special, consider the tradeoff, which is placing your personal data at risk. Also consider yourself warned by none other than a high-level officer at Europol. Free Wi-Fi hotspots pose data risks. That was the warning recently voiced by cybercrime officer Troels Oerting, head of the cybercrime center at Europol. He spoke to the BBC. He noted a growing number of attacks being carried out via public Wi-Fi. Europol, the European Union's laws enforcement agency, is assisting several member states who had seen attacks carried out on networks.

Oerting spoke of WiFi misuse on the rise, for purposes of stealing information, identity or passwords, and money from users making use of the Internet while sitting in places featuring public or insecure Wi-Fi connections. The attackers were not using novel techniques, he said, Their approaches were already known in the ways they trick people into connecting to a hotspot that superficially resembles those seen in cafes, pubs, restaurants and other public spaces. The approach is in the "Evil Twin" mode where once the victim connects a smart mobile device or laptop, the eavesdropping begins.

Late last year, European Parliament switched off its public Wi-Fi system after discovery of a man-in-the-middle attack (thieves attempting to insert themselves between users and a hotspot to get the data passing between the two points). The attackers went after data on communications between smartphones and public WiFi. Staff were advised to change their passwords and avoid unknown public WiFi in other locales such as train stations or airports.

Many people are connecting to the Internet while on the go including those taking advantage of WiFi connections in the form of free public access points. Advice to avoid working with sensitive information over public Wi-Fi appears frequently, yet security experts find that many users do not recognize the risks.

Kaspersky Lab last year found that 34% of those surveyed stated they do not take any additional security measures when they connect to public hot spots. Another 14% reported that they were not concerned about using open access points when using services that process personal financial data, such as online stores, online banking services, and e-payment systems. Only 13% of mobile device users surveyed said they asked about the encryption standards used before connecting to hot spots with their devices.

Explore further: New Chinese law reinforces government control of cyberspace (Update)

More information: via BBC

Related Stories

Wi-Fi Alliance announces Passpoint program to start in June

May 09, 2012

( -- The Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry group bent on making Wi-Fi access more available more easily, has announced that it will begin certifying devices and hot-spot providers (using the Hotspot 2 definition) starting next month ...

US coalition calls for expansion of Wi-Fi airwaves

Feb 13, 2014

A newly formed coalition of US technology firms and advocacy groups called Thursday for the expansion of Wi-Fi, saying airwaves are getting congested for a key pathway to the Internet.

Beware of highway robbers on Wi-Fi

Oct 12, 2009

As the number of Wi-Fi hot spots grows, travelers might want to heed a word of caution from the Wi-Fi Alliance, a nonprofit industry group that promotes Wi-Fi technology: Think security.

Recommended for you

Shyp reclassifies contract couriers as employees

1 hour ago

Shyp, the quickly growing startup that provides on-demand courier services, said Wednesday it would reclassify its contract workers as employees, becoming the latest high-profile tech company to change how it compensates ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 09, 2014
Do people really bask in the convenience of doing online bank transfers?? And here I thought that only happened in bank adverts.
not rated yet Mar 09, 2014
Pretty unintelligible title. How about "Europol warns of thefts over public wifi"?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.