Beware of getting hacked by the promise of free Wi-Fi in cafes
Posted by Elaine Bellamy on 30/10 at 10:00 AM Security, Wi-Fi,
Wi-fi in a cafe

While I blog about new technology and how it can help your business, I am also a parent who is wary of the security issues that technology can create. My previous blogs have been about web filtering and warnings about messaging apps used at school; this one concerns hacking.


On a recent family trip to London, we visited various museums and landmarks, took a ride on the London Eye and wandered the streets of the capital using our mobiles to take photos and share them via social media, often using free Wi-Fi in coffee shops. In one of these shops, the login took a bit longer than normal and then I noticed a man sitting in a corner of the coffee shop with a laptop and hoodie pulled over his head peering at guests who were using their mobiles and accessing the free Wi-Fi.


I quickly logged off the Wi-Fi and went back to using my mobile data allocation. The coffee shop manager was made aware of what was happening - he took the view that people were being paranoid but said he would investigate it.  I kept an eye on the man and noticed he was scanning the room with his eyes monitoring people using their mobiles, tablet and laptop devices. I have no evidence he was hacking into any of these devices, but it certainly made me feel uncomfortable.


Working in the connectivity and IT industry, I know of certain methods used by hackers to gain access to public Wi-Fi. These are:


Man in the Middle
Hackers use sophisticated software to intercept your data in transit to and from your device to the router and can alter website addresses to send you to a similar looking site that infects you with malware.


Evil twin
A very simple hack which involves hackers setting up rogue Wi-Fi hotspots that look like the coffee shops and therefore look harmless, but once you connect to them the hacker can gain access to the data you send.


Packet sniffing
Hackers place a packet sniffer on the router, like network administrators who place packet sniffers on devices to monitor devices and troubleshoot any issues. Hackers use them to eavesdrop on people logging onto the Wi-Fi and monitor their patterns.


I spoke to another colleague about the lack of security in this well-established coffee chain and he informed me of a small coffee shop he visited where they gave him the password from the back of the router. Without realising the staff member had also gave him the administrator password!


He quickly informed the person behind the counter they shouldn’t do that and was met by questions about why and what’s the worst that could happen!


Free Wi-Fi is such a great way to attract people into coffee shops who want a quick drink and chance to check for messages, updates or social media, but should they be taking more precautions with their security?


The cost of investing in a secure router with the right safeguards and installation is far cheaper than the fines they will incur, as well as the negative publicity which could considerably damage the business.


Having a secure Wi-Fi solution ensures your customers have a secure internet connection without any risks of losing data. Staff won’t face issues in giving Wi-Fi passwords that could be a security risk and you can confidently advertise the fact you have secure Wi-Fi to build customer confidence.


Contact me today and I would be happy to discuss the benefits of our secure Wi-Fi solution and how it could protect your business in the future.

Posted by
Elaine Bellamy's avatar
Elaine Bellamy on 30/10/2018

Elaine has worked with us since 2013 and has successfully progressed into the role of cloud and connectivity team leader.

She is responsible for looking after our existing customer user base and migrating potential new customers to our fixed lines, SIP, mobiles and Internet services, as well as public and private hosting services, data solutions, Microsoft Office 365, Wi-Fi and filtering.

Before joining us, Elaine worked in customer service environment for 12 years. Elaine enjoys spending time with her family wandering the beaches of south Devon, interior design and is a keen follower of current fashion trends.

Contact: elaine.bellamy@swcomms.co.uk

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