Friday, September 28, 2012

Real Life Examples Of Wi-Fi Internet Security Risks For Mobile Devices

Author: Gagan Masoun
Real Life Examples Of Wi-Fi Internet Security Risks For Mobile DevicesIn late 2011, there were several experiments which vividly demonstrated the real-life Internet security threats Wi-Fi hotspots hold, especially for mobile devices.All of the tests were conducted with volunteers, however Internet security experts were able to easily gather usernames, passwords, and even phone messages at a public Wi-Fi hotspot with little effort.

The Information Gathering Experiment

In one experiment, a significant amount of information was harvested from smart phones without the user’s knowledge.  In fact, most of them were not even actively surfing the Internet.  As long as the phone was on, it automatically connected to the Wi-Fi hotspot and gave hackers the access they needed.  In some cases, the phone was in the user’s pocket the entire time.  They never actively connected to the Wi-Fi hotspot or access to the Internet.  The worst part is that this Internet security flaw has been known about for years and a built-in, permanent solution has yet to be developed.  

The Equipment Needed to Replicate the Experiment Is Cheap

What makes these Wi-Fi Internet security threats even more dangerous is how easy they are to set up.  The piece of communications equipment required to harvest information can be purchased for less than $75.  The software installed on to the communications equipment was downloaded from the Internet for free.  Combining the communications equipment and software allows testers to quickly set up fake Wi-Fi gateways.  To make matters worse, the latest generation of smart phone automatically connected to the gateway, which is a significant Internet security threat many users are unaware of.

Read Also: How SSL Provides Security To TCP/IP

The Terms Of Service Experiment

In another experiment, a fake Wi-Fi hotspot was created and invited people to pay for Internet access.  To Internet security risks were brought to light during this experiment.  The first is people are more than willing to enter their credit card information without knowing who has created the Wi-Fi hotspots.  Not only does this give hackers access to the user's device, but they get paid as well.

The second Internet security threat was the terms and conditions.  In order to pay for access to the Wi-Fi hotspot, users blindly agreed to the terms and conditions by clicking a check box.  The terms and conditions clearly stated “You agree we can do anything we like with your credit card details and personal log ins”.  If this was not an experiment but a real world situation, the hackers would have gained legal consent from the user to do whatever they wanted.  This could include stealing identities, hijacking e-mail accounts, and committing fraud.

Addressing The Internet Security Risks Of Wi-Fi Hotspots

If there is only one lesson to learn from these experiments, is that everyone must take personal responsibility for their own Internet security.  It doesn't matter who sets up a Wi-Fi hotspot or where it is located, the owner has no legal responsibility to provide any form of Internet security to the users.  This makes Wi-Fi hotspots a prime target for hackers and data thieves.  While all mobile devices are at risk, these experiments demonstrated why smartphones have become popular targets for malicious attacks. It explains why people today use tools such as VPN for Android phones or iPhone to protect their online activities.

Author - Gagan Masoun is the owner of Blogs Daddy Blog.Gagan lives in India, has been blogging since 2010 and writing Blogs Daddy Blog since 2011.You can find him in the usual social networks.


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