Free WiFi Hotspots Scam Warning!
Free WiFi Hotspots are littered all over any city. I know when I am traveling around in Dublin my device is spoiled for choice as to which free WiFi I should connect to.
It is always easy and tempting to connect especially when it is free and very convenient, as we all know, ‘convenience seems to nearly out weight ‘consequence’ when something is for nothing, when you are traveling on holidays and not near a shop to buy more data add on’s, which, can be costly for a lot of us, it can be to temptingly easy just to ‘click’ ‘CONNECT‘!
So what is the problem with WiFi Hotspots anyways? Let’s just say after you read what I uncovered in my investigation you will never view this public service in the same light of day ever again!!
Free WiFi Hotspots is a Scammers Delight!
Before we get into how easy it is for scammers to invade and intercept your sensitive data as you surf for free online, let us firstly, take a cursory look how countries compare to each other in their ability to handle this growing online menace to our devices and our money!
Online Fraud is costing the Worlds Economy $100,000,000,000 A YEAR!
40% of citizens in Ireland have found malicious software on their devices through means of paying for online goods and then not having them delivered, not at the quality displayed, or just straight up fake items!! A long many other avenues.
A quick glimpse at identity theft/malware instances in the following EU Countries viewed in percentages are as follows:-
- Ireland is at 40% for malware infections/fraud malicious software found on them with 9% falling victim to identity theft.
- The coveted ‘Title‘ of ‘Highest Fraud Instances‘ goes to Poland, landing on a whopping 19%!!
- We all need to learn from Greece as their percentage is an incredible and respectable mere 4%! Greece Rocks!
- Hungary and Romania are ‘leaders’ in innovating a clear path for scammers to grab your ID Online at 19%!
- ‘Big-Respect‘ goes to Bulgaria and the Netherlands for getting to grips with ID Theft online with a percentage they can be very proud of, which stands at, 3%! Well done guys!!
The average percentage of people being scammed in Europe is 7%. Greece, along with Portugal and Romania, has the lowest Internet Coverage of all. If this is so, how the hell are the scammers in Romania making every second of data count for their own financial fraudulent purposes?
Ireland, given it’s current ‘built-up’ status, has only 80% coverage, a fact, quite shocked me! Oh well, least everywhere else is covered in grass = 100%%%! (We Win – LOL! – somehow…)! Sourced:- www.irishtimes.com
How does the UK fair against the EU in Online Fraud Safety Practices?
UK is the home of the Royal Family and East Enders (a ‘dichotomy’ I can’t quite wrap my head around) and of course the globally revered MI5. Surely, with UK’s top-notch security agencies working round the clock, in every aspect of global security, can we look to our neighbor for some tips to help Ireland stay safer online? I am hope so.
Let’s take a look at how the UK fair’s up to the EU in this respect in statistical analysis of online fraud safety practices.
I have several figures from several sources all saying the cost to the UK yearly, in this kind of fraud is £193 billion, £10.3 billion and £11 billion. Whatever the true cost, it’s a lot of ‘zeros’ averaging out the cost to the average UK person at £210.00 yearly. OUCHE! Following figures reported fraud only, not, actual ‘occurrences.
- 86% of UK citizens reported they had been ‘targeted’ by online scam artists in the preceding twelve months.
- 28% said they had been in dialog with ‘someone (scammers) trying to manipulate sensitive data out of them.
- 10% of UK citizens were victims of social media accounts hacking!
- 3% fell foul of RANSOMWARE! This is an incredibly speedy growing software that targets your device, by, locking you out and telling you to pay to have it unlocked – as one example.
- 19% fail to update operating systems which would help to lessen these instances as older systems are easier to hack.
- 29% failed to make any back-ups of their data.
The list continues. Sourced from http://www.actionfraud.police.uk.
As you can see, fraudulent attempts to get your passwords and other sensitive data is NOT going away any time soon. The best advice I could give to every one is to read up to learn to recognize scams when they seen them, along with many other tips. But that is my numero uno tip! It also helps to update your operating system and use different passwords across all your accounts, of which, nine ‘different’ passwords is recommended from the above site.
As we can see, the UK average person needs to start implementing stricter controls to their online surfing life! Its just way too easy for fraudsters to make a living this way and it’s encouraging them by lack of controls on our parts.
How the Public Hotspots Scam Works to Steal.
A typical life situation, which I am sure most of my readers have been in before, is you are at your overly frequented cafe, bus station, library or anywhere really that normally offers this service. While the business owners intentions are pure of heart to help make your experience on his premises ‘delightful’, and, entice you to stay longer and buy more of his service or products, such places are a pretty regular hang out for clever scam artists as well. Here is why.
- You have a ‘gander’ at your device and check out some of the free WiFi signals local to you.
- There is one that could be labeled ‘Free WiFi Hotspot’.
- You ‘click’. Cool, your connected. You should’ve ‘clicked’ though because you just walked into a real smooth online operating scam – very hard to detect if your not looking out for it.
- Hotspot asks and you pay a small fee for the privilege of using this service.
Once signed in you could be dealing with fake hotspots, fraudulent hotspots, which is when they ask you to pay a small fee. This happened to me recently, whilst traveling back from the UK. I was Birmingham Coach Station (I like to travel in ‘style’) and had a look at, if any, free ‘spots’ to surf for free to pass some time. I found one. Tried to connect and it said I got one free hour but afterwards would have to pay. First time I ever seen such a thing. That is a true sign of a scam guys!
- If you pay, or just simply unlucky enough to open up a ‘scammers-signal’, you will begin:-
- To start ‘logging’ in to various places, naturally enough.
- All ‘entries’ are being ‘recorded’ for the scammer to have a look at when his finished stealing someone else life savings online.
- If you suspect anything ‘fishy’ regarding your logged in areas please change all of your passwords immediately including your Google+ Account!! What ever you do, please, do not log in to your bank account whilst on a publically shared network – Nota Bene!
Basically, the scammer puts himself in the middle of data flow. You and Facebook. You enter your Facebook passwords, his software re-directs that to him first and logs it, then it goes to Facebook for execution. Next I will explain what kind of software could be doing this on behalf of these dishonest crooks and how they use it
Man In The Middle Hacking Software (MITM).
You and Your Device(s) in a typical cafe/business outlet place:-
You hook up your device to the business’s router for free internet access while enjoying your lunch break.
Only problem is you are not the only one in the coffee shop, library, airport etc that has accessed this free service!
This is a Shared Network and operates on Trust which the scammer exploits. You are not protected from hacking and, no doubt, you may be warned that your data could be at risk, should you connect to this network.
As you sip your coffee you decide to log in somewhere for a chat or shopping or banking. You send data to your bank for instance e.g. login details – Top Prize for any scam-foolery to take place!
However, when you are dealing with the Man In The Middle Attack, here is what happens:-
As you see above, someone cuts the original connection between ‘you‘ and your ‘bank’. Using MITM software they are able to receive, decrypt, and then encrypt all communication in this triangle of disaster! This is all the Man In The Middle Attack is and how using public WiFi may not be the best thing for you to do.
We will now examine how you can protect yourself and your family from such attacks should ever really need to use a free public WiFi.
Ways to Protect Yourself from Online Free WiFi Fraud Scams.
- As previously state, be sure to have at least 9 different passwords across all of your accounts. If the hacker gets just one, and ALL of your accounts have the same password, YOU are in serious trouble!
- Only use WiFi’s that have the HTTPS protocol, which stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol ‘Security’ The ‘S’ part is profoundly important and is the new standard for data transfer online due to it’s secure connection as it gives you FULL ENCRYPTION!
- INVEST in up to date FIREWALL and ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE. Its worth it in the long run as such software’s will give you a secured and private network (VPN – Virtual Private Network).
- Don’t use this service to login into anything that is very important to you.
- TURN OFF YOUR BLUE TOOTH WHILST OUT IN PUBLIC!
- Turn off your ‘connection once you are done if you really have to connect.
- Use hotspots that you know and are fully encrypted (HTTPS:// that I spoke about).
- Do Not have your device settings rigged so it logs into any tom-dick-&-harry’s signal!
- WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA (WiFi Protected Access) aren’t good enough to halt attacks.
- Only Log Into WPA2, SAME AS ABOVE, BUT STRONGEST DEFENSE!
Following the above safety tips whilst online using a free internet service signal should be enough to protect yourself and your family while out and about.
Real Life Example of WiFi Hacking.
This, unfortunately, happened to me.
About 10 years ago I received a bill from my local Service Provider, Ireland’s biggest provider – biggest provider in Ireland. The bill was staggering lol. If I recall correctly it was somewhere in the range of seven hundred euros for one lousy month! I rang the company and told them, very heatedly, that there is no way in hell we rang up those data charges at all and someone has made a mistake!
They coolly informed me that yes indeed we had as the ‘usage’ came from my household. I repeated myself and told them that we must’ve been hacked and can they tell if someone else has hacked in to my families WiFi. They, unbelievably, said ‘NO’. THANKS EIRCOM – YOU RULE!!!
I FOUND OUT THOUGH!
Here is how you check if someone is after hacking your home WiFi and running up your internet bill:-
- You see your ‘nifty’ little ‘router’, that ‘thingy’ you were told is your ‘internet’, well go ahead and shut down ALL devices currently logged in to it. Should those lights are still blinking – you got a problem – someone else is using your WiFi.
- Now, using your laptop, go to COMMAN PROMPT! Do this by holding down WIN + R and type cmd to open up a box.
- Once box opens type in the following:- ipconfig.
- Locate Default Gateway IP Address and click on it.
- Go ahead and type that address into a browser and hit enter to see results. You’ll get more information.
- Go and change your WEP/WPA/WPA Security Key (password) which will STOP all intruders from stealing your password.
This is slightly different from back ten years ago in locating someone who steals from you. I do believe I just opened command prompt and typed in something like cmd/users – I don’t recall – then I got a ‘NAME‘ – one of my neighbors…..mentioning no names. Lucky for him lol.
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Well that is pretty much it from me on the dangers of free public WiFi connections. Generally speaking just don’t use public hotspots without an up to date protection software on your device. Disabuse yourself of the idea that ‘someone‘ is protecting your online privacy, because, once you sign in to an unsecured network (http:///) and not a (HTTPS://), no one is. Your wide open to extortion (ransomware), ID theft, bank fraud etc.
Our collective lack of knowledge and security practices online is how we are fueling this online epidemic to nuclear proportions!
I had fun writing this post and I hope enjoyed it also. Why not go ahead and leave a comment on what I have investigated here and I will always get back to you.
Helping You And Your Family Stay Safe On The World Wide Web.