How Cybercriminals are Targeting free Wi-Fi Users?

Pierluigi Paganini October 16, 2018

Free Wi-Fi is convenient, but it is also unsafe and puts users at great risk. Here’s how the cybercriminals attack user on these open networks.

The free Wi-Fi is one of the catchiest things for the users in today’s world. This is the main reason why so many free public Wi-Fi can be found without much of a problem. It is not only free but convenient to use these open networks. However, many might not be aware of the fact that these free open Wi-Fi hotspots are actually unsafe and they put the users at great risk.

There are multiple ways in which many cybercriminals are targeting the users of these free Wi-Fi hotspots. Many of these users are at least aware that the open networks they connect are actually unsafe. But what they do not know are various ways in which they are being targeted by the cybercriminals and hackers on these open networks.

Ways in which Hackers Target free Wi-Fi Users

The open for all nature of the free public Wi-Fi networks makes them unsafe for all the users. All the cybercriminals are always on the lookout to get their hands on users’ personal or financial data or they look for vulnerabilities to get access to their devices. These free networks give the cybercriminals the perfect opportunity to fulfill their purpose. The following are some of the common ways how cybercriminals target the free Wi-Fi users.

free Wi-Fi

  1. Man in the middle attack

The man in the middle attack is one of the most commonly used attacks where the cybercriminal places himself between the user and the router. This way, all the requests by the user actually routes through the hacker. This way, the hacker can actually have full control over the network, and he or she can easily get what they want from the user.

Carrying this attack successfully is so easy that it took 10 minutes to a 7 years old girl to hack into public Wi-Fi network and access stranger’s laptop. It was a real experiment and the girl who attempted and successfully hacked the network in 10 minutes was Betsy Davies. So, if a 7 years old can do it in 10 minutes, imagine what a pro can do in a matter of minutes.

  1. Fake Wi-Fi Access Points

It is also easily possible for the cybercriminals to make fake Wi-Fi access points in public spaces. They can setup rouge Wi-Fi networks, which gives them all the data and the access to users’ device or system. It is fairly easy to create as the cybercriminals set up this rouge network as a bait and name it something very general. They wait for the user to connect to this rouge network and they can have them connected.

As soon as the web connection of the user is made on this rouge network, there are plenty of ways in which the attacker can carry out the attack. One way is that the cybercriminal may direct the user to a malicious website where he or she will be forced to download a malware on their system. The second is the spoofed banking page where the attacker would want the user to enter their banking detail and financial data so they can easily capture this sensitive information.

  1. Fake Honeypots

The fake honeypots are quite similar to the fake Wi-Fi access points, but the only difference is that the honeypot is set in a more sophisticated manner. This increases the chances of more users’ falling for the trap that has been set by the cybercriminals.

Imagine connecting to an airport’s Wi-Fi network where you saw two options with similar names and even passwords. It is certain that one of these is a honeypot which is there to capture users’ data and use their sensitive information in the wrong way.

Intercepting your data and credentials

Another very brutal attack is the interception of users’ internet data when they are on these unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots. The internet data transmitted on these networks is not encrypted. Since these networks are unsafe, it makes it easy for hackers to sniff and intercept that data which can have the login credentials of the user.

Due to this method, the cybercriminals easily get their hands on users’ data which includes their private information as well. Since this data is not encrypted, the hackers do not have to do much to use that data for their evil purposes.

So, these are some of the common attacks which are being used by the cybercriminals to target the users on the free Wi-Fi networks. There definitely is a way to stay protected on these public Wi-Fi hotspots and we are discussing it below.

How to stay protected with VPN on Public Wi-Fi Networks?

The best and the most advanced way to stay protected on these unsafe public Wi-Fi hotspots is to use a decent VPN service. There are some ace VPN providers who offer strong security and encryption which makes it extremely hard for the cybercriminals to get access to users’ accounts and data.

The VPN does not only encrypt all of users’ data to protect their privacy on the web, but it also creates a secure tunnel between the user’s device and the VPN server which is hard to break in. It is because the tunnel is also encrypted and the encrypted data goes through this tunnel. The cybercriminals cannot easily get their hands on users’ data if they are using one of the best VPN services.

Even if they get their hands on users’ data, then all they will get it gibberish, because all the top VPN providers offer strong encryption which is not only hard to break but also takes years to decrypt even if the hacker chooses to use some automatic tools.

Final Words

If you use the free public Wi-Fi hotspots a lot at different places like malls, cafes, restaurants, or any other public space, then you should be aware that these open networks are actually unsafe and it can put you in great danger. If you wish to use these free open Wi-Fi networks then you need to get a decent VPN service and connect it before surfing the web on these networks.

About Author:

Susan Alexandra is a small business owner, traveler, and investor of cryptocurrencies. She is just another creative writer helping to create the kind of information that young people want.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – free Wi-Fi, hacking)

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