Sep 25, 2014
If you're like most people, you've probably already used WiFi today. WiFi has become a fundamental part of our connectivity. Whether that's when we're in the office, and connected to the company's network, or in a coffee shop, connected to a public one. The problem is that many people don't think much about security when they connect to new networks, and the potential implications. In today's post I explain how to minimise two key risks when connecting to WiFi networks.
There are two primary threats to look out for when using WiFi networks, in particular public ones. Firstly, we have what's known as "an evil twin". Quite simply, it's a WiFi network that's been setup to look like a normal WiFi network -- for example it might have the same name as the one you usually use in the local coffee shop. In reality, the network has been created by a hacker. Once you use the network, the hacker monitors all your activity, and attempts to capture sensitive data like credit card information, bank account details and passwords for key web services.Secondly, there's the "war driver" attack. A war driver attack is when someone connects to a non-secure WiFi network, and breaches data being exchanged on it. This can be done by anyone within the wireless range of the router. For example, if your company had an open WiFi network, a war driver may be able to connect to it and intercept your employees' communications.
The easiest solution to the "evil twin" attack is to use a virtual private network, or VPN for short. Secure VPN's used on any device that connect to the internet form a secure connection with your device, and encrypt all data transferred. The VPN then connects to the public server, or website you are trying to access. The VPN encrypting all your data ensures that even if you do connect to an evil twin, the hacker won't be able to see any of the data you are sharing online. This means your passwords, bank account details and other confidential information stay safe. When it comes to war driver attacks, it's of fundamental importance that you secure any WiFi networks used in offices. If you are connecting to other public networks, again, a VPN is a great piece of kit for maintaining security. The encryption prevents the war driver from being able to read your communications, and your information is kept secure.If you're looking for a secure VPN provider, it's important to do your research. Find a reputable, trustworthy company, rather than a new upstart. Remember that all of your internet traffic will be routed through your chosen VPN provider, and that if you make a poor choice -- they could steal your information as easily as a WiFi attacker. There's a great post available here which shares tips for finding an appropriate VPN provider, and some of their recommended examples include:
- Hotspot Shield
Also, always remember that using a VPN doesn't mean web browsing best practices.