Can you imagine what it would be like to not be able to connect to a Wi-Fi network at a train station, in the airport or at a restaurant? We got accustomed to using hotspots and wireless networks the same way we look at the clock to check what time it is.
Thanks to an Australian team of engineers led by John O’Sullivan, wireless networks clearly make our lives easier.
On World Wi-Fi Day, acknowledge this great invention! But remember to use wireless networks wisely. You can easily connect to a Wi-Fi without taking any additional painstaking. But the smart Wi-Fi practice is when you first make sure your device is secured.
Why would you need a secure Wi-Fi access? Because so far, as helpful as they may be, wireless networks have proven to be the most vulnerable when it comes to data hacking.
Check out 5 true stories that reveal how easy it is to steal digital data while connected to Wi-Fi.
1. Public Wi-Fis: from exposing your name and device to your whole life story
For the sake of experiments, Wouter Slootboon, a Dutch IT expert proved how public Wi-Fis are more unsecure than anyone could think. He went to different coffee shops and exposed the risks of using a public, free hotspot without having your device encrypted.
He was able to connect to the laptops, smartphones, and tablets of all the people present in onecafé. Slotboom was able to see the networks the devices were previously connected to. From this stage to finding out people’s passwords, personal emails and other important data from them it was just a matter of seconds.
In a different café, Slotboom’s next level went to creating a fictious Wi-Fi network and trick users into connecting to it, making them believe they were actually connecting to the open Wi-Fi of the café.
Here are some of Wouter’s observations:
‘We can also see the name (first and last) of a woman using the social bookmarking website Delicious. Delicious allows users to share websites—bookmarks—they are interested in.
First, we google her name, which immediately allows us to determine what she looks like and where in the coffeehouse she is sitting. We learn that she was born in a different European country and only recently moved to the Netherlands. Through Delicious we discover that she’s been visiting the website of a Dutch language course and she has bookmarked a website with information on the Dutch integration course.’
2. From hacking a faulty router to making a good deed
An Israeli hacker revealed how easy it is to hack a Wi-Fi network, particularly one set by town municipalities. Amihai Neiderman, who is actually a white hat hacker, is the manager of an Israeli cyber security firm. One day, he noticed an unusual wireless hotspot placed in an area where there were no buildings. So, he decided to check how secure it is. In a few minutes, he discovered a vulnerability in the router’s web interface that let him take control of the full device.
The good part is Neiderman reported the flaw to the router company that fixed the issue. Still, if someone else wanted to take advantage of the flaw, that person could have grabbed data from thousands of users.
3. An ordinary journalist’s data got hacked when he was about to expose a controversial privacy issue
An American journalist thought no one would ever want to steal his data because he was not such an interesting person and also because he believed he had nothing to hide. He suddenly became interesting when he was doing an investigation story related to Apple and FBI’s request for tech companies to create back doors, so terrorists would be caught easier.
His important journalistic data got hacked while being on a plane, using American Airlines Gogo. This is an in-flight internet connection that works exactly the same as most open Wi-Fi networks.
The resolution? Although he found out who hacked his laptop, he never knew if or what part of the stolen data the hacker ever used.
4. What’s the most satisfying way to get even with your ex-wife? Mess up with her Wi-Fi thermostat
Here is how an ex-husband wanted to revenge on his ex-wife after she decided to bring in her new boyfriend in the house they once owned together. Since he could still control the Wi-Fi thermostat through his mobile app, he started having fun with it. So, he used to set the home temperature to 80 degrees when they were away from home in the middle of June.
5. Never downloaded any music or movies? You can still get a copyright notice from your ISP
Finally, this is the story of a woman who truly believed her home Wi-Fi network was 100% safe. When she decided to change her ISP, the company replaced it with one of their own. One year later, she received a notice letter from the ISP, accusing her of having illegally download a movie.
The only problem was she never downloaded or watched the named movie. She quickly changed her Wi-Fi password. However, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the company that initially sent a letter to her ISP could have still sued her for illegal copyright. She had to prove her wireless network was hacked.
More people whose data got hacked when using Wi-Fi:
Just a friendly reminder to be careful using public wifi to sign on to your accounts.
My friend’s FB got hacked after using edsa shang’s public wifi.
The hacker told me that he/she wanted the account for 2 days and would return it after getting what he/she wants. WTF! pic.twitter.com/xflezCEuGT
— Gold Baldonado (@aurophobic) June 18, 2018
Working off of public WiFi poses HUGE security risks. I never use it or the hotel’s free guest Wifi. I found out one year that the hotel my wife and I were staying at was still using WEP instead of WPA2 security protocols. That’s lazy and a joke.
— Greg (@Skywarp2099) June 13, 2018
And good pieces of advice:
HACK PREVENTION TIP: Are you on public WiFi? Don’t share personal data ⚠ Think twice before you buy a plane ticket or check your bank account at places like a coffee shop and conference center while connected to their WiFi, as you have no idea how secure the connection is. pic.twitter.com/ZTPDGQL4Mm
— Vicom ProServ (@VicomProServ) June 18, 2018
PLEASE STOP CONNECTING TO FREE PUBLIC WIFI WITHOUT A VPN. YOU ARE RISKING YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION.
— whathappened? (@CherryChainGang) June 10, 2018
Check this nice video simulating Wi-Fi data hacking in a cafe:
— UNILAD (@UNILAD) May 5, 2017
Why use a VPN each time you connect to a Wi-Fi?
A VPN encrypts your entire internet traffic, guaranteeing your privacy online. This means you are protected from data thefts. With a dedicated Wi-Fi Protection profile, CyberGhost secures you data on all Wi-Fi networks, including public, and open Wi-Fis.
So, the next time you connect to a Wi-Fi, remember to use CyberGhost VPN!