Get Safe Online has issued a warning to the UK public to be careful when accessing private data on public Wi-Fi hotspots. The UK now over 300,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots, with more people than ever becoming the target of cyber criminals simply because they don’t know if the networks they’re using are secure. It may sound like a spy thriller, but cyber criminals can hijack public networks to try to steal your money and information – in some cases, even your identity.
Wi-Fi networks are found in public places like cafes, airports, pubs and hotels. If not fully secure, these networks could potentially be hijacked by cyber criminals. In some cases, criminals have set up fake hotspots in public places to fool people into logging onto them.
Police advice is not to use public networks to browse confidential information; log into an account; or make a payment. Doing so on a public network comes with risk – particularly if you don’t know how secure the network is.
Get Safe Online has produced some top tips for staying safe when using Wi-Fi networks:
1. Don’t use public Wi-Fi in places like cafes and hotels if doing anything confidential online, including logging into online accounts
2. Being given an access code or being asked for your email doesn’t mean a WiFi connection is secure.
3. Instead of premises’ hotspots, use a mobile broadband dongle that is set to secure, your 3G or 4G data connection – or wait to use a router you know is secure.
4. Consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to access your company network.
5. Ensure your home and office wireless networks are secure.
6. It’s OK to use public Wi-Fi hotspots for things you don’t need to log into or aren’t confidential, like checking the news or weather. If possible, use wellknown hotspot providers like BT OpenZone or T-Mobile