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Can you spot a fake wifi hotspot?

Think your smart enough to spot a dodgy connection. Think again


Everywhere you go, people are trying to connect their smartphones, tablets and laptops to Wi-Fi hotspots. Bars, pubs, hotels, restaurants etc. will use their Wi-Fi as a sales pitch to their customers and you will often see posters outside boasting their free Wi-Fi.

Everyone wants to constantly be connected to the internet and often it is very important to people that they are able to receive work emails or to pay bills etc. Unfortunately, as with most things these days, it is not always safe so be careful when connecting to an unknown hotspot. Fluidata have put together some ways to help you spot a fake one…

A hacker could set up a fake hotspot to gain access to you information including emails or passwords which could therefore give them access to bank details or any other important information. When you turn your Wi-Fi on in a public area you will notice that many different choices come up. For example, if you are in Starbucks several different options could come up for the same place e.g. “Free_Starbucks” and “Starbucks Wi-Fi” automatically, you would think ‘I want the free one’ but this is not necessarily the correct or safe one. This could well be a fake hotspot set up to collect all of your transmitted data. Online banking is very dangerous when using a public hotspot as they are generally less secure than private connections.

You must beware of airport Wi-Fi hotspots which are some of the most dangerous. The airport is very popular for hackers to create fake hotspots. Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported in 2008 that there were 20 fake hotspots a Chicago’s O’Hare International airport alone! These were made to gain access to personal information from networks and computers.

You must do as much as you can to protect all your data and information so when connecting to a hotspot make sure to check with the bar, restaurant, hotel etc. which is the correct one to use. You can also double check by looking at the URL which will show you whether your web browsing is safe and secure. If the URL has HTTPS before the website name then all your information should be safe but with an HTTP address hackers could gain access to any data that you share or transmit.

When in a public place which has a lot of Wi-Fi options you should turn off your Wi-Fi so that you don’t accidently or automatically connect to an unsafe hotspot.

Any Wi-Fi hotspot which you use will automatically become more secure if you need a password to get onto it. Even your home or work Wi-Fi isn’t safe if there is no password needed to connect. Anyone can gain access to an unlocked network and can steal information that is not theirs. Make sure when setting up a password that it is not easy to guess and you do not use any personal information such as your date of birth or spouses initials, comprise the password of random letters and numbers.

At the initial set up stage you must also ensure the name of your Wi-Fi does not use and personal information like names i.e “Smith’s Wi-Fi’ because anyone who is around and connecting to the internet can easily work out that it is your Wi-Fi.

If you are planning to use any type of Wi-Fi that you are not familiar to make sure that you research into it because the internet can be very dangerous and unsafe when it comes to personal information.