BBB: Stay safe online this summer, watch out for fake WiFi networks
9:57 AM, Jul 17, 2017
Better Business Bureau warns if you are traveling this summer and taking advantage of free WiFi, double check before connecting your device. Scammers use fake WiFi hotspots to steal personal information or gain access to your device.
"Say you're at a coffee shop, airport, hotel lobby, or other public place, and you want to connect to the WiFi. You search for connections and find one nearby. It may be labeled something generic like 'Free Public Wi-Fi.' This may look harmless, but don't connect, it could be a scam," BBB's Emily Valla explains.
Valla says some fake WiFi hotspots claim to be charging a small fee to use the connection. After a user connects, they are prompted to enter credit card information. This information is then shared with the scammer.
According to BBB, in another version of this scam, hackers insert themselves between your computer and the WiFi connection.
"Everything you do online, such as make a purchase or log into an account, is now transmitted through the scammer's computer. This means they can now access any passwords, credit card information, and other data you've entered online," Valla said.
Valla advises, as a rule, be careful how you use public WiFi.
"When using a hotspot to log into an account or make a purchase, be sure the site is fully encrypted. Use 'https.' Better yet, never enter private information over public WiFi," Valla said.
BBB also recommends:
Be sure you are using the correct WiFi connection: If you are in a place that offers free WiFi, verify the name of the connection before joining. Scammers often set up fake hotspots next to real ones.
Consider using a VPN: If you regularly access public WiFi, use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs encrypt traffic between your computer and the Internet, even on unsecured networks.
Always use antivirus software and a firewall: Protect your computer (and some cell phones) by using antivirus software and a firewall from a reputable company.
Use good password sense: Protect yourself from hacking by using strong passwords and creating a different password for each account.