Europol Warns Of Public Wi-Fi Security Risks

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Europol cybercrime chief says there has been an increase in attacks through public Wi-Fi connections

The head of Europol’s cybercrime centre said that sensitive information such as bank details should not be sent over public Wi-Fi connections and warned that there had been an increase in the number of attacks carried out over unsecured hotspots.

Troes Oerting says Wi-Fi is increasingly used to steal information, identities, money and passwords from unsuspecting users and that people should be taught not to transmit information over a connection in a public place, such as a coffee shop.

Europol Wi-Fi warning

wifi hotspot“Everything that you send through the Wi-Fi is potentially at risk, and this is something that we need to be very concerned about both as individual users but also as police,” Oerting told BBC Click, adding that Europol was assisting a number of European countries with investigations into organised cybercrime.

He said that some criminals were using novel methods to extract such information, but the majority were still relying on simple approaches such as tricking users into connecting to a hotspot that appears to be one from a café, pub or public space. For example, logging into ‘Starbucks Wi-Fi’, might not actually connect you to a Starbucks-authorised connection.

Oerting’s comments come just months after the European parliament was forced to shut off its own public Wi-Fi network following man-in-the-middle attacks, which see attackers sit on the same networks as targets to determine what software users are running and target vulnerabilities to steal information.

A number of UK cities are currently rolling out free Wi-Fi networks in order to improve access to public services, with Glasgow, Leeds, Bradford, Cardiff and Edinburgh among those introducing wireless Internet.

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