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ID Theft @ WiFi-Hotspots

By Will from Holland

Ever heard of "Evil Twins?"
I don't mean your neighbor's evil twins who target you with snowballs in the wintertime...

Ever heard of Phishing?
Phishing describes several varieties of Internet-based scams that try to steal your personal and financial information.

Ever used a wireless hotspot to connect to the Internet?
Combine Phishing and a hotspot and you have an "Evil Twin."

If you try to connect to a hotspot in public, your computer will search for available wireless networks in range. It'll find the hotspot provided by the company where you are working (like a coffee shop). Sometimes the search may even identify a "Free" wireless network.

Free—that sounds nice. Why pay to access the Internet when you can get it for free?

Because it's very likely the "free" connection is an "evil twin," a hotspot connection that exactly matches the legal hotspot and looks legitimate, but really is a fake hotspot from a scammer.

Once you connect to the hotspot, the scammer will try to collect your banking information, passwords, and pretty much anything else they need to get to your money.

How could you have fallen for this?

Scammers use very catchy lines to get you to connect to their hotspot, such as: "Free Internet Now" or "Complimentary Internet Connection."

What can you do?

  • Use only legitimate Wi-Fi hotspot connections.
  • Use hotspots only to surf the Web. Don't send e-mails, bank online or anything else where you give out personal information online.
  • Make sure you have a good firewall installed on your computer.
  • Make sure you have the latest browser version. Some browsers display where a secure site is located.
  • Once you have logged onto a hotspot's site, make sure the address bar starts with "https," not "http."
  • Check your online accounts regularly. I check mine daily.

Wi-Fi can make our lives easier.
Paying attention can save a lot of hassle and money (not to mention your identity). Check back every once in a while, just to make sure you stay up to date...