Spending time online using a WiFi hotspot is almost second nature now. However, hooking up to the network can carry hidden risks. Despite this, more than a third of users take no additional precautions when logging on to public WiFi, according to the Kaspersky Consumer Security Risks survey conducted by B2B International and Kaspersky Lab.
Many hotspots skimp on protection for users – and many users are unaware or unconcerned about the potential problems this can cause. In the survey, 34% of users say they took no special measures to protect online activity using a hotspot, while 14% were happy to bank or shop online using any network that came to hand. Just 13% take the time to check the encryption standard of any given access point.
The problem is that anyone else on the network could be monitoring the Internet traffic of people around him, using a “man-in-the-middle” attack makes this possible.
Any WiFi access point is a window to the Internet for all the devices attached to it. Every request from a device goes via an access point, and only then reaches the sites that users want to visit.
Without any encryption of communications between users and the access point it’s a simple task for a cybercriminal to intercept all the data a user enters. That might include data sent to a bank, or an online store. In addition, attacks like this are possible even if the hotspot is password protected and a secure https-connection between the required site and the user’s browser is established.