Why be cautious connecting to unknown Wi-Fi spots?
There’s nothing more satisfying than being in a public place like an airport or pub, and realising you can easily connect to their free Wi-Fi without a password.
But do you ever think about the security issues surrounding this? I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought myself, but after reading about this security experiment intended to prove how dangerous Wi-Fi hotspots are, I will definitley be thinking twice.
Hackers can disguise these dangerous hotspots with names that we would think are safe and reliable like ‘Airport_Free_Wifi’.
Antivirus company Avast decided to set up a social experiment to see how many people would be willing to connect to a Wi-Fi zone they set up at Barcelona Airport next to a registration booth for Mobile World Congress internet conference.
They called their three networks ‘Starbucks’, ‘Airport_Free_Wifi_AENA’ and ‘MWC Free WiFi’.
WiFi hotspots can be set up by anyone, and by connecting to the wrong one, you are giving your information to scammers and are making your device vulnerable to hacks.
In just 4 hours, more than 2,000 people connected to the experimental WiFi.
Among the haul, Avast detected that: 61.7 percent of users searched for information on Google or checked their Gmail.
52.3 percent had the Facebook app installed.
14.9 percent visited Yahoo.
1 percent used dating apps (Tinder or Badoo).
What’s more worrying, the researchers could see the identity of the device and user in almost two-thirds of the connections made.
How to protect yourself
Check to see if you have your phone set up to automatically connect to public Wi-Fi, and if you do then turn that feature off.
Avast security company has recommended that mobile users use a Virtual Private Network to surf public networks. That means data is encrypted and anonymous.