Top Interpol Official Issues Warning About Public WiFi Risks

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Interpol LogoTroels Oerting, the Head of Europol’s cybercrime center, has warned businesses and individuals not to send sensitive information over public WiFi networks.

Oerting stated that there have been an increasing number of incidents in Europe, where hackers are using public WiFi to steal personal information from users. He also mentioned that man-in-the-middle attacks are the primary danger inherent to public WiFi networks.

In a recent BBC interview, Oerting proclaimed that it’s difficult for users to know when their identity has been stolen over WiFi networks, because while they might become aware that someone has stolen a credit card, it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly when and where it happened.

He said, “Everything that you send through the WiFi is potentially at risk, and this is something that we need to be very concerned about both as individual users but also as police.”

Man-in-the-middle Attacks

A man-in-the-middle attack is a form of active eavesdropping, where attackers within range of a public WiFi network can redirect all network traffic through their computer, usually by imitating another WiFi network. Users won’t know if they are logging into a legitimate WiFi network or a fraudulent one.

Once they connect to this fake WiFi network, attackers can see everything that users are doing on the Internet, including the websites they login into, information they access in their banking accounts, and activities they perform on social media websites.

Another man-in-the-middle attack can occur when attackers create a fake website that poses as an online bank or merchant that enables them to steal users’ login information.

Attackers can then log onto the real website using victim-supplied information.

Public WiFi is Inherently Insecure

Public WiFi networks are popping up every day, but users seem to be in the dark about the dangers they face if they do not encrypt their data. In fact, nearly all public WiFi networks transmit data without encrypting it. WiFi signals are just radio waves, and anyone with the right software can easily steal data from free public WiFi networks right out of thin air.

It is good to see that the head of the Interpol’s cybercrime division is warning users of the dangers inherent to public WiFi networks. Remember, using a VPN like PRIVATE WiFi is the only way to stay completely safe when accessing public WiFi.

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Jared Howe

Jared Howe is PRIVATE WiFi’s Senior Manager, Product Marketing Communications. Working in high tech for over 15 years, Jared currently lives in Seattle with his wife, daughter, and their two cats.

1 Response

  1. JustAnotherHuman says:

    Use a VPN.