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Europol Warns Of Data Risk Posed By Free Wi-Fi

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  1. Acorn Newsbot

    Acorn Newsbot Junior Member

    Jan 2006
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    This week Troels Oerting, head of Europol’s cybercrime centre, stated that people should only send private information across networks that they trusted. His warning comes on the back of an increasing number of attacks occurring via public Wi-Fi.

    In an interview with BBC Click, Mr Oerting warned that, “We have seen an increase in the misuse of wi-fi, in order to steal information, identity or passwords and money from the users who use public or insecure wi-fi connections.”

    The issue with free Wi-Fi hotspots is that you have no idea who is running them, or what information they could be stealing from you when you’re using them. As a result of this, Mr Oerting has encourages people to be wary when using public Wi-Fi. He further suggested that people needed to be better educated on how to use the internet safely:

    "We should teach users that they should not address sensitive information while being on an open insecure wi-fi internet”, he said.

    In his speech, he emphasised the importance of only transmitting personal data when on a secure network – preferably one within the home, which you know is safe. He stated:

    "They should do this from home where they know actually the wi-fi and its security, but not if you are in a coffee shop somewhere you shouldn't access your bank or do all of these things that actually transfer very sensitive information."

    So how can you stay safe?

    The best piece of advice for anyone concerning free Wi-Fi hotspots, is to simply not use them. If you do not recognise the name of a Wi-Fi hotspot, then don’t connect to it.

    Of course, there are many legitimate public Wi-Fi hotspots; many cafes, hotels, and shops now offer free Wi-Fi services. However, it is vital that if you choose to connect to one of these, that you connect to the correct version. It is a common tactic of cybercriminals to create rogue Wi-Fi hotspots with names that are very similar to those of legitimate, safe Wi-Fi connections. As such, it is best to be on your guard and only connect to a Wi-Fi network if you are certain it is the legitimate version.

    When you are connecting to a new Wi-Fi network, you are likely to be asked to enter a password. If it is a legitimate free connection being offered by somewhere such as a café, you are likely to need to ask a member of staff for this password. If there is no password required, then it is best to be wary, as it may well be a rogue hotspot. To help you when scrolling through a list of hotspot names, you should look out for those that have a padlock symbol next to them. The padlock symbol indicates that it is a secured network, and should be safe. Do not connect to any unsecure network (i.e. any listed without the padlock symbol).

    If you do decide to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot, it is imperative that you do not use it to send any sensitive information. Even if you believe the connection to be legitimate and secure, you should not use it to do anything that requires you to submit any personal details – such as online shopping, banking, or even using social media. To stay safe, it is best to only carry out transactions involving this kind of private data when you are at home on your own, secure internet connection.

    For more information on how to stay safe and avoid rogue hotspots, read our wireless hotspot security overview.

  2. Domain Forum

    Acorn Domains Elite Member

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