Malware risk on unsecured WiFi networks

Security camera

Image via Wikipedia

It’s something I have mentioned previously but it’s worth reiterating…. using unsecured WiFi networks put you and your precious data at risk. This is true not just when connecting to such networks via your laptop whilst on the move. It’s just as true when using your smartphone or iPad or iPod Touch, indeed any of the various types of devices that come with a WiFi ability.

“Consumers need to realize that mobiles, whether smartphone or tablet, are mini computers,” said David Gorodyansky, CEO of AnchorFree. “This means all the vulnerabilities of a computer exist, often with a less-protected OS.”

For companies and individuals, smartphone access should be a concern when that access is via unsecured mobile networks. For banks and e-commerce sites in particular, as well as consumers,  security has become much more important now than ever before.

So, what steps can you take to protect yourself? Well, just like when using your normal PC, don’t click on links in unsolicited emails (known as ‘phishing’ emails) and don’t respond to emails that you weren’t expecting, or from sources you hadn’t signed up to and certainly don’t click on links asking you to verify your logon details, in particular ones claiming to be from your bank.

Be wary of emails that come from social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and the likes of Twitter, especially if it’s not from any of your regular contacts. Spam is a real problem at the moment with these and there are numerous scams going around the social networking world at the moment.

It’s good advice to never give out personal information via email, smartphone or on the Web, and always verify independently  any unknown text or email message, game, application or security update.

Don’t logon in the first place to an unsecured network and instead use security all the time, using a VPN to encrypt and secure your browsing.

For more on the risks of malware on wifi and other networks read http://www.technewsworld.com/story/71816.html

You may also want to check out these excellent security sites:

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Thousands of UK Wi-Fi users still vulnerable to hackers

A diagram showing a possible WI-FI network.
Image via Wikipedia

It seems the message still isn’t getting across. A recent report by insurance firm CPP shows some 40,000 wi-fi networks across the UK could be easily hacked, often within a few seconds. What’s most shocking about this finding is that almost half of them had no password at all – that’s nearly 20,000!

These networks are vulnerable to even the most inept hacker. With little more than a laptop, a wireless connection and some easily obtained software all of these networks could be hacked and the owner wouldn’t even know it. That means if they are using their internet connection to do online banking that they could find their logons stolen, followed soon after by their cash. They are also vulnerable to having their online identity stolen, their computers taken over and turned into zombies spewing forth spam and sending more viruses and Trojans around the net.

Another surprising finding of the research is that 82% of those interviewed thought their networks were secure. This just underlines the fact that most of the public have little understanding about Wi-Fi security and are oblivious to the risks they are facing. When one considers that Wi-Fi is very common now on smartphones and other devices (iPods and iPads for example) then this is a very worrying situation indeed. Its difficult to know what can be done about it too as most of the public develop a glazed look whenever you try and explain Wi-Fi security through the use of WPA2 security etc.

One solution would be for manufacturers to design devices with automatic security configuration and the SSID and wireless keys stuck on a label on the device. SKY do this with some of their routers so it’s possible to do it. Until all Wi-Fi devices come automatically configured with WPA2 encryption however, it’s down to the end-user to educate themselves and make sure their devices and networks in general are all properly secured.

Check out my post here for some tips on how to do this. I intend to write another post on how to secure your Wi-Fi network step by step so keep visiting.

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Wi-fi owner in Germany fined for poor wi-fi security

Airport Wi-Fi
Image by slambo_42 via Flickr

It seems that the law is starting to take notice of the security risks of poor wireless network security, if the recent experience of one German citizen is anything to go by.

A German court has recently ruled that German citizens are responsible for the security of their own private wireless connections. What’s more, it has proved its point by ruling that a musician had the right to sue the owner of a network connection that had been used to illegally download and file-share music.

The owner had proof that the householder was on holiday at the time but the court ruled that the network should have been password-protected.

The court’s verdict was that the owner could be fined up to 100 euros (£86).

“Private users are obligated to check whether their wireless connection is adequately secured to the danger of unauthorized third parties abusing it to commit copyright violation,” the court in Karlsruhe said.

While it did not find the owner guilty of actual copyright violation the ruling was that the person must take a degree of responsibility for their connection being used to break the law.

In a similar case in the UK in 2005, Gregory Straszkiewicz was fined £500 and given a 12 months conditional discharge for using the wireless network of an Ealing resident without permission. The owner of the network was not charged.

However, this may change n the future and if you are running a wireless network that is unsecured, or even running the easily cracked WEP security protocol, now would be a good time to make sure your network is secure. You may get fined by the courts just yet but having an insecure network is asking for trouble. If you don’t wish to become a victim of identity theft then you should certainly be running the WPA/WPA2 protocol.

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