R930k WiFi Hotspot Fraud

Wi-Fi hacking and associated fraud is often spoken about, but real customer experiences should alert users that losses may be severe.

Johannesburg, South Africa

execMobile (www.execmobile.co.za) has previously published roaming “bill shock” horror stories of customers who have spent R760k and R610k respectively when using mobile data abroad for a couple of days. However, the Wi-Fi first culture which this has bred amongst mobile users, may result in even higher losses, or even jail time, if steps aren’t taken to manage security.

“We have first-hand knowledge of a property company’s employee, who was on holiday in Kenton”, says founder and MD of execMobile, Craig Lowe, “and used a public hotspot to send a building rental invoice to a customer. The email was intercepted and the banking details on the R930k invoice changed, before the criminals forwarded this on to the customer.”

execMobile research indicates only 24% of mobile data originates over VPNs despite widespread security concerns about hotel and public Wi‐Fi. Lowe continues, “This is not surprising as employees’ laptops are well protected, but many travellers actually use their phones or tablets, and these devices typically have no protection, even though they may carry just as much corporate data.”

Only the customers’ alert accounting clerk prevented the fraud by requesting proof of the new banking details from the property group.

A close shave indeed, but more concerning, is that the penalty could soon be even higher. If the communication had contained customer’s private data or personal information, the pending POPI legislation may have led to a fine of up to R10m or the directors being sent to jail.

“Do not leave your digital security at home when you connect away from home” concludes Lowe, “our customers’ experiences have shown it can be very costly.”

Kaspersky Lab’s 2016 Travel report, indicates more than half of travellers bank (61%) and shop (55%) online via Wi-Fi, so it is no wonder then, that a South African loses their identity online every 29s.

The report can be found at https://blog.kaspersky.com/kaspersky-lab-international-travel-report/12429/

About execMobile’s PocketWifi

PocketWifi is your ultimate travel companion, simply the smartest way to travel. PocketWifi is a handheld device which provides you with wireless internet access wherever you go. It works just like any other Wi-Fi hotspot – but it’s personal and fits in your pocket.

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Roaming: don’t break the bank

Travellers need access to on-line services, whenever they travel. It should therefore not be surprising that 61% choose to avoid exorbitant mobile roaming all together1 and opt for public Wi-Fi services to stay connected. In a mobile world however, there there is a need for global mobile data (think Google Maps or Uber, not hotel of coffee shop), it may come as some relief that whilst execMobile’s 2016 Annual Outbound Report shows 98% savings against operators standard rates, it also indicates 51% saving over their best rates.

The 2016 Annual Outbound Report analyses terabytes of data consumed by execMobile’s corporate customers in more than 65 countries. It shares significant insight into the most frequented business destinations, the average usage per device per day and that execMobile eliminated more than R121m in roaming costs for these corporates.

Roaming is a complex ecosystem. International roaming is ensured with bilateral roaming agreements between operators. An operator typically has between 250 and 500 data roaming partners and it’s not uncommon to have up to 700 partners globally. The sheer expense and time that operators need to commit to keep the agreements updated explains one part of roaming being so costly.

The other key part is that operators can only affect rates on their own networks, which also limits geographical and in-country coverage. execMobile’s PocketWifi uses disruptive multi SIM technology to eliminate complexity and cost, offering corporates near local rates in 149 countries.

The operators best roaming rates remain expensive, albeit that they have improved since 20152. These costs remain high either because there are hidden subscriptions costs or T&Cs which limit the rates to certain networks. The execMobile report shows that 2.87 devices on average were connected to their PocketWifi device per day – expensive when operators’ daily subscription fees of R30 or R60 per device apply. Even worse when R1/MB rates are advertised, but unless the user manually selects the correct partner network to roam on, the rate could be as high asR350/MB!

With rates as low as 8c/MB for pre-paid leisure bundles or from only R59/day for post-paid corporate average daily usage2, execMobile’s expanded solution portfolio offers every traveller an option to remain abroad connected, mobile and secure, without breaking the bank.

Access to the 2016 Annual Outbound Report can be obtained from execMobile by sending your details to 2016aor@execmobile.co.za

About execMobile

We offer international travellers Internet access anytime, anywhere and from any mobile device at a fraction of the cost of your current mobile operators’ rates.

Our PocketWifi is a handheld device which provides you with wireless internet access wherever you go. It works just like any other Wi-Fi hotspot – but it’s personal, secure and fits in your pocket. It really is the ultimate travel companion. We can also service those that still prefer a simple travel SIM.

Voice and Video are supported via any of the standard Over-The-Top (OTT) apps such as Skype, WhatsApp or MS Lync. Imagine the freedom of traveling abroad with internet access, just like at home.


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.


About PocketWifi

execMobile provides a secure, mobile Wifi device to provide connectivity when and where it is needed. When abroad simply switch on the device and it will connect to a primary local carrier, at near local cost. Our savings are 99% compared to standard roaming rates, or at least 58% better3 than operators’ best rates. Any Wi-Fi capable device can connect to the PocketWifi, providing travellers with their own personal, secure connection to the internet. This POPI compliant connection is available on arrival and when mobile. Voice and Video are supported via any of the standard Over The Top (OTT) apps such as Skype, WhatsApp or MS Lync.

The Pocket Wifi is not restricted to a single user, so can be pooled for availability to whoever is making the next trip. Additionally, up to 10 devices or users can be connected concurrently; this means a group travelling together could use the same PocketWifi. Importantly, we offer local pre-paid data for South Africa from 7c/MB, enabling the device to be used at home.

The execMobile PocketWifi solution meets all the needs of today’s Business Traveller, with high security and low cost. We eliminated R138m in potential roaming costs for our customers in 2015!


Public Wi-Fi: The Holy Grail for the damned

Travellers need secure, low cost access to on-line services, whenever they travel, wherever they are. It should therefore not be surprising that 44% connect before they leave the airport1, many via public Wi-Fi, to check in with family and the office. This urge to connect however is putting their data at risk and for corporate travellers, this may lead to company directors being jailed or a fine of up to R10m.

This Wi-Fi first culture exists due to the mobile operators extortionate roaming rates, even though cybercrime is commonplace abroad. Of 11, 850 traveller surveyed, almost one in five (18%) have been victims of cybercrime while traveling1.

This is not surprising when only 24% of mobile data is secured2, mostly via VPN services from laptops. Laptops are too cumbersome for travelling, and tablets and mobile phones have become the devices of choice for travel convenience; many have no VPN protection, albeit they carry as much corporate data as a laptop.

With less than 19% of mobile roaming traffic unrelated to work2, most of this unsecured traffic is business related, and presents a major threat to corporates.

Corporates must maintain security and manage costs, however travellers need to arrive connected and remain so. There is an immediate need to hail an Uber, check in with work, navigate using Google Maps or simply use online travel services. This provides the IT manager with a massive dilemma as busy travellers simply cannot wait 2-24 hours for a local SIM card to activate.

Even new roaming offers from the operators remain expensive relative to local costs, and using local SIM cards is limited to tech savvy travellers or those with time. The balance, are driven to public Wi-Fi via tablets or phones, meaning the corporate is operating at security levels they would never deem acceptable. Security levels in breach of their own corporate network standards and the upcoming requirements of POPI here in South Africa.

Secure, international mobile data, at near local costs is the need. According to legend, the Holy Grail has special powers designed to provide happiness, eternal youth and infinite abundance; a bit like free public Wi-Fi, but only fraught with more danger.

(1) Kaspersky Lab International Travel Report 2016 (2) execMobile 2015 Usage Analysis


Roam abroad securely for only R59/day or 8c/MB with execMobile

Roaming specialists expand high speed, low cost solutions to make it easier to remain connected when abroad.

Johannesburg, South Africa – June, 2016

execMobile, the leading provider of connectivity solutions for business travellers today announced new low-cost solutions for leisure travellers. The company, which prides itself on crafting secure, low-cost alternatives to keep corporate travellers connected and mobile, will offer leisure travellers solutions that suit different travel patterns and user behaviour.

“We are thrilled to offer solutions based on our customers’ feedback”, says founder and MD of execMobile, Craig Lowe. “Poor quality static hotel or coffee shop Wi-Fi simply does not meet the needs of travellers who demand services like Google Maps or Uber when abroad. Global travellers require secure mobility; protected Internet access anywhere, anytime. I believe our low-cost options offer simpler ways to remain connected.”

execMobile has been providing roaming alternatives for outbound South African travellers since 2010. The company revealed it has been working with its partners abroad to reduce the cost of mobile data connectivity and also offer new innovative “activate on arrival” solutions that remove complexity and offer peace of mind to ensure travellers can arrive connected.

Lowe continues, “We have based our offers to the market on extensive customer feedback and research. For example, we analysed our corporate customers’ data usage and surprisingly found the average around 50MB per device per day in 2015, so we now offer connectivity from R59/day. Leisure travellers needed more data, valid for longer periods; our 1-12GB Value offers are valid for up to 90 days, activate on arrival and cost as little as 8c/MB.”

In an effort to meet customers’ need for geographic expansion, execMobile now offers coverage in 149 countries.

To learn more about the new Value, Smart and Pro solutions, contact our office at 011 706 5961 or email sales@execmobile.co.za, or visit the website at http://www.execmobile.co.za

About execMobile

execMobile is all about staying connected abroad without costly surprises.

Our worldwide mobile broadband solutions eliminate data roaming charges while keeping you online wherever you go.

execMobile’s mobile Wi-Fi is developed in association with various partners. Our long standing relationship with various operators allow us to innovate and continually adapt our solutions to meet the market’s needs. The company is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since the launch of execMobile in the spring of 2010, we have rapidly expanded the service to offer global coverage and made execMobile THE global solution for combating excessive data costs and lack of internet access.


Still searching for a travel SIM?

With the Rugby World Cup now underway, thousands of South Africans are preparing to travel to the U.K. and get in on the action. Many will be juggling work and play, with only a few that can afford to simply disconnect from work for even a few days at a time. As a result, mobile connectivity is a major priority for travellers. In today’s always-on business environment, being out of the office – or even out of country – is no longer an excuse for being out of touch. Most South Africans however, are still using outdated and overly expensive means to stay connected on the move.

Rethinking the SIM card strategy

Arguably, this can be most plainly seen in the continued reliance on prepaid SIM cards for smart phones when traveling abroad. Despite the fact that there are now other, more cost effective and secure options, most people still believe prepaid SIM cards are a smart strategy.

In our view, using prepaid SIMs in smartphones when abroad puts the user at greater security risk.

Fraud and cyber threats are a reality in South Africa, and if people don’t have access to their normal mobile numbers when abroad, it leaves them vulnerable to identity theft and banking disasters – amongst other things. On the other hand, using prepaid SIM cards for use in tablets is a smart option, enables travellers to use data for email and voice services such as Skype and FaceTime – while still being safely connected to home with their regular SIM cards in their phones.

We believe that SMS roaming is still a very useful and affordable service for travellers when abroad especially for Internet banking and emergencies.

Bursting the Wi-Fi bubble…

Beyond the use of prepaid SIM cards for data, many travellers are also being caught out by hotel Wi-Fi that is unexpectedly poor and unreliable.

According to the iPass Mobile Workforce Report, more than 80% of respondents reported having had a ‘bad experience with hotel Wi-Fi, even though most hotel guests now consider it a basic need and expect hotels to provide adequate service’.

For travellers who need to remain connected for work (and don’t have reliable mobile connectivity of their own) this can be a disastrous scenario. As the same report underscored, ‘vacation time is connected time’. Indeed, the iPass report confirmed that workers aren’t unplugging when they go on vacation. The majority (91%) stay connected wherever they go just so they won’t fall behind while they’re away – and more than half ‘continue regular daily project work while they’re on vacation, and login several times a day to work’.

For South Africans traveling to the U.K in the coming month, the same will most likely apply.

Best of both worlds

Naturally, the other massive issue with Wi-Fi is that it’s not mobile. And for travellers who increasingly want to access voice services, social networks, email and work-related platforms on the move – mobile connectivity is critical.

Fortunately, there are an increasing number of smart and affordable options for travellers beyond the usual SIM card swops and spotty Wi-Fi connections. PocketWifi, for example, enables travellers to combine the benefits of mobile and Wi-Fi – without the security risks associated with prepaid SIMs and public Wi-Fi. Given the soaring costs of international roaming, it is also a cost effective way of staying connected when out of the office (and out of country).