Many airports and other public spaces offer free wireless, or Wi-Fi, connections for the public to log onto the Internet from their laptop computers. The Better Business Bureau warns travelers about hackers who take advantage of travelers wanting to stay connected. They do this by setting up fake Wi-Fi connections designed to steal your personal information.
How it works:
Although hackers have set up fake Wi-Fi connections in many locations, airports are a favorite hot spot. When searching for connections, consumers may see a network connection available that could be simply named “Free Wi-Fi.” Unfortunately, the network may actually be an ad-hoc network, or a peer-to-peer connection. The user will be able to surf the Internet, but they are doing it through the hacker’s computer. While the user is online, the hacker is stealing information such as passwords, credit card and bank account numbers, and Social Security numbers from users' laptop computers. Airports across the nation continue to report Wi-Fi security issues.
The BBB offers the following advice:
- Connect securely. Never connect to an unfamiliar wireless network — even if the name sounds genuine. A hacker can change the name of his network to anything he wants, including the name of the legitimate Internet connection offered by the airport.
- Disable automatic connections. Make sure that your computer is not set up to automatically connect to any wireless networks within your range. Otherwise, your computer could automatically connect to the hacker’s network without your knowledge.
For more information, visit www.bbb.org.
- Turn off file sharing when you are on the road to prevent hackers from stealing sensitive data from your computer.
- Create a Virtual Private Network. A VPN establishes a private network across the public network, thus preventing hackers from intercepting your data.