This bulletin was put together by South Yorkshire Police but has a lot of good advice for those that regularly use public wi-fi connections in shops or cafes.
The Problem With Public Wi-Fi
Publicly available Wi-Fi connections or ‘hotspots’ are great for accessing the internet when you are not at home or work. However, not all Wi-Fi connections are secure and they can be used by cyber criminals to intercept your data. If you connect to a publicly available Wi-Fi, you don’t know who else is on the network. Your data could be intercepted.
Be aware that if you log into your emails using an app, without typing in the password, the phone will send your password over the Wi-Fi and could be intercepted. If you use automated passwords and do not enter your user name and password manually, these details can still be intercepted.
EVIL ACCESS POINTS
Cyber criminals can set up their own Wi-Fi hotspots in an attempt to get you to connect with them. They broadcast a Wi-Fi connection, usually calling it something like ‘free_wifi’ or ‘coffee_shop_wifi’. If you connect to this Wi-Fi the criminal can capture any data you are sending.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
- Don’t use public Wi-Fi for online banking, accessing e-mails or anything involving sensitive personal information. When doing this in public, use your 3G, 4G or 5G connection. Data passed over these connections is always encrypted.
- Make sure you are connecting to a trusted Wi-Fi hotspot, operated by the venue you are at. Ask staff if you are in any doubt.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to public Wi-Fi. All your data will be encrypted and so if it is intercepted it won’t be readable. VPNs can be downloaded onto devices as an app.
NOT ALL WI-FI HOTSPOTS ARE SAFE
CYBER CRIMINALS CAN CAPTURE DATA ON AN INSECURE WI-FI NET WORK
DO I NEED TO USE A VPN OR SWITCH TO A 3G, 4G OR 5G CONNECTION?