It all seems so innocent and convenient. You’re sitting in a coffee shop and tap into the local wi-fi network. It’s free, so why not?
Wi-fi networks are the source of some serious hacking. Your data could be stolen, including credit-card information. As millions of people head out and about for the holiday season, here are some ways to protect yourself.
According to The Fraud Watch Network:
“On public Wi-Fi, you’re operating in an open network in which hackers can access your device, watch where you surf and see what you type — passwords included. So try not to log in to sites that require a password, and don’t enter credit card numbers. To protect your data, turn off file sharing in your device settings.”
How do hackers bust into WiFi networks? Here are some common scams:
Man in the Middle Attack
“How it works: The hacker positions himself between you and your Wi-Fi connection point. So instead of talking directly with the hotspot, you’re sending your information to the hacker, who then sends and receives data impersonating you.
Every piece of information you’re sending out on the Internet: important emails, credit card information and even security credentials to your business network — are all under the control of the hacker. What happens: The hacker compromises your bank online account credentials and transfers your funds to their account.
Evil Twin Attack
How it works: A hacker sets up a Wi-Fi access point with the same name as a legitimate network you have connected to previously and compels your computer or phone to connect to it automatically without your consent. He monitors commonly used network names, and chooses one — such as “default” or “home” — and banks on your device recognizing it.
What happens: The scammer has the opportunity to steal your user id, name and password — or he can take over your smart phone or laptop.
How it works: Armed with a laptop, smartphone or tablet, “war drivers” use commonly available software to troll neighborhoods to find open or poorly protected Wi-Fi networks.
What happens: Once they find an open network, a hacker will use “man in the middle” techniques to steal personal, company and financial data, log in credentials, passwords, etc. They may also install malware on to connected computers and search connected devices for sensitive information.”
What happens is that unsecure networks are an open invitations to hackers. Anyone can get on them. Even with password protection, you could get into trouble. Here are some ways to protect yourself:
1) Don’t send any financial information on public networks. Credit card and banking information should be done on secure networks or at home.
2) Don’t automatically connect to free Wi-Fi. It could be a fake network set up by scammers.
3) Don’t do online shopping on a public network. That may allow hackers access to your credit card numbers.
(Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)