Nirvana: No Public Wi-Fi!

Travellers have a Wi-Fi first culture when it comes to connecting abroad, even though cybercrime is commonplace.

“Sensitive information should not be sent over public wi-fi hotspots, to avoid hackers stealing it”, Troels Oerting, head of Europol’s cybercrime centre and Europe’s top cybercrime police officer has warned. “People should send data only across networks they trust”.

He said the warning was motivated by the growing number of attacks being carried out via public Wi-Fi. The cyber-criminal hijacks the connection between a Wi-Fi user and the hotspot, an easy task, as public Wi-Fi service is freely accessible and often unencrypted.

The intruder, without the user noticing, can then read all the data transmitted between the user and the hotspot, such as websites, messages and passwords. Worse, Botnet infections remain dormant until carried back into the companies’ infrastructure, where they further infect multiple hosts.

“Travellers need to stay connected wherever they are, and using public Wi-Fi is, for some, a quick-fix” according to Craig Lowe, MD at execMobile. “What is worrying, is that they typically do so from phones or tablets, which carry no protection at all”, he added further.

Staying connected and being up to date has a direct impact on productivity. Media these days sing of the omnipresence of Wi-Fi. But the convenience of public Wi-Fi is accompanied by real threats. “You wouldn’t want to expose yourself to the vulnerabilities of public Wi-Fi and put your or the company’s data at risk”, Lowe notes.

“We are seeing more and more corporates outlaw the use of such mobile data access abroad, so to assist our clients, execMobile now offers a full R5000 guarantee on our PocketWifi service. The policy makers are now able to eliminate these threats by banning access to Public Wi-Fi, whilst keeping connectivity costs at near local rates, safe in the knowledge we have their back”, Lowe concludes.

Affordable, secure, mobile internet on the go is indeed Nirvana. Defined as “a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth”, the latter may be a harsh way to define the effects of cybercrime, but sooner or later, public Wi-Fi will result in serious harm.