Don't Risk Your Privacy When Surfing in Public

Don’t you just love the possibility to access the internet just about anywhere by WiFi? Isn't it practical to keep connected with all aspects of your daily live while on the move or in the city? What people are often unaware of, though, is the very real threat to their privacy as they do just this.

Airports, train stations, bus terminals, tube stations, port facilities, hotels, restaurants, fast food joints, pubs and cafes offer the ultimate easy access into the world of the World Wide Web: Wireless networks. The WiFi hubs can be accessed through laptop, mobile phones and all kinds of devices just as long as you are able to lug them along to the where you're going.

If you want to use the Internet in one of those public places, all you have to do is search for the connection hot spot to log on. You're usually given a whole list of networks from the vicinity from which you may choose your preferred connection. And that choice is exactly where your troubles begin.

The list displayed gives you the names of an internet provider like BT, or that of the pub you're in like The Iron Duke. But among the list of accessible connections are fake ones put up by crooks trying to steal information from unwary users, be it passwords, bank details, or anything else they can get their hands on to possibly steal your identity. 

The fraudulent connections are not marked CON-nect or fake, but more often than not duplicate the name of an existing link. Now which BT link is the real thing, and which one isn't, or are they both fake and there is no BT connection in that place at all? You are absolutely unable to tell the difference, and neither can IT experts.

The signal for the evil twin might be coming from the guy sitting at the next table playing around with his laptop; and signals from fraudulent sources may even be so strong that they push down the legitimate signal to show their connection as the strongest of all. They are obviously not interested in you accessing the weather report, but they would love you to access your bank account or use your credit card for an online purchase. Snap! And your money is gone, you may bet on it.

The fake connections can spy on what you do; it can also send you to a fake bank site when you try to access your bank account. Your data then becomes easy pickings for criminals to get all your security details from you. And you’re probably too busy to notice before the damage is done. The criminals don’t even have to use the data they obtain themselves; they may as well sell them off to other criminals who’ll then proceed to empty your accounts or charging your credit cards.

With dozens of people around you accessing the internet like you, you wouldn't notice the one who is sending the false signals. All they need is a laptop and a small areal to trap you and anyone else in the place. And depending on the state of the art protection you have on the device you’re using, they might even load a Trojan virus onto your device which will allow them to access it anytime they like.

How lovely to be able to access the World Wide Web anywhere you go. But use your brains when doing so. Complaining later is boring and doesn't help you in the least.

Further reading

Gary Taylor

Kevin Warhol

Siva Kineshvaran The Wanted