Europe’s top cybercrime police officer has warned that sensitive information should not be sent over public wi-fi hotspots because there is a risk that hackers can steal it. Troels Oerting, who is head of Europol‘s cybercrime centre, says that rather, personal data should be sent over a known and trusted network.
“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,” he said. “We should teach users that they should not address sensitive information while being on an open insecure wi-fi internet.
“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.”
Mr Oerting explains that hackers are not using any elaborate tricks to steal the data but are simply tricking people in to connecting to bogus wi-fi hotspots that resemble those normally found in places like restaurant, cafes and other public places.
“Everything that you send through the wi-fi is potentially at risk, and this is something that we need to be very concerned about both as individual users but also as police,” he said.
Easy Opportunities And Vulnerabilities
Senior security analyst for PWC, Charlie McMurdie, agrees with Oerting’s concerns, explaining how some hackers use this ploy to target specific people.
“A lot of mainstream criminals have identified there are easy opportunities and vulnerabilities just walking down the street and exploiting wi-fi networks that exist in every coffee shop,” she said.
“There is the need for raising awareness of what the vulnerabilities are and what you should be doing to protect yourself whether you’re on the move or in a physical location,” she warns.
[Image via Rho5]