Meet the industry specialist entrusted with protecting your digital transactions and privacy.
ELEPAY CYBER SECURITY STRATEGIC ADVISOR
'Free Wi-Fi' Risks and Consequences
In years gone by, gaining access to online services outside of your place of work or at home was achieved by connecting to unknown, often unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Organisations provide Wi-Fi services as a means to entice customers into their establishments. Mainstream coffee shops make it commonplace, hotels offer a service for their guests and airport lounges provide a provision for frequent travellers to remain online right up until they board. Implementing network access as a value add comes at a cost, so what business reason would there be to offer a free internet connection?
They either want you as a continued connected customer to purchase their key product, or they want your details so they can target market you in an online manner after you leave the storefront.
We all know that nothing is ever free, you are, in fact, exchanging your user details to access a service, that ultimately ends up in a costly, time-consuming exercise cleaning your inbox from the myriad of junk that piles up day after day. If you address this from a cynical angle, dare say it, more sinister, not only are your user credentials at risk, but also your entire online conversation is potentially being recorded. This means that banking details, transfer amounts, email accounts, work system details, social media DM’s are finding its way to a forum on the dark web.
If the dark web concept is new, think of it as hidden, underground black market.
Dangers of Dark Web
The dark web allows for numerous activities to occur, buying and selling of drugs or weapons or in this case, information able to be sold or traded for malicious intent. Usernames, passwords, birth dates, birthplaces, social service identifiers, passport numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank details, credit card numbers, medical records, insurance information are the types of data that criminals will use to fraudulently scam you.
Nobody on the dark web is who they say they are, they wear disguises, use false names, they are completely anonymous, hence very hard to trace and almost impossible to retrieve your data. A simple search to understand the value of your information can quickly be found.
This table is a US-based example, all values are in $USD.
The 10 million email address stat is alarming, and it’s no surprise why we get so much spam, but consider that once one crime gang has finished with their spam campaign, they on sell the 10 million to the next group at a reduced rate. Further increasing the clutter in our inbox.
Not all Wi-Fi networks are malicious, but you should always bring a sense of trepidation when considering connecting to an unknown network, especially if you are inputting important login details or transferring funds from one account to another. As a recommendation, I would suggest using your mobile provider's data plan and connecting your laptop to your phone if you need to conduct any sensitive business online.
The plans provided ease this burden and the means to connect your phone to your laptop is accomplished very quickly, efficiently, and securely.
When not out and about being coerced to use an unclean network, you should also look to strengthen your network environment at home. To start, change your modem's default password settings. Most telco providers have a step-by-step approach on how to do this.
Additionally, you should pay attention to all of your other devices connecting to your home network, like security cameras, smart home systems, doorbells, voice assistants, TVs, fridges, and solar inverters all should have their default admin passwords changed.
An awareness of your presence online should be considered at all times of the day, knowing how you are connecting and what details you are sharing, should put you in a position to make the right decision whether or not to conduct a sensitive transaction immediately or wait until you are on a more trusted network.
Always strive to maintain a security mindset.
Cyber Security 10 Part Series
The subject topics will sometimes take on a business aspect, at other times a personal viewpoint, and in some cases, both will be covered.
Feel at ease to comment or even call for a confidential discussion about what security concerns you are facing.
Understanding the Threat Landscape
Strong Passwords and Multi Factor Authentication
VPN – Should I Install?
Importance of Employee Training
Implementing Robust Password Policies
Regular Software Updates and Patch Management
Backing Up Essential Data