Editing your website from free Wi-Fi Access Points and the hidden implications

Router and Wireless internet connection, discussing why free Wi-Fi spots are dangerous
These days we all expect to get internet access no matter where we are, whether it is via a 3g mobile device or a wireless access point at a pub or cafe. I have had to caution a few of my clients as they have poor internet at home or at the office and use local Wi-Fi hotspots to edit their websites.

 

Sadly there are implications that the average person is unaware of….

 

 

Generally speaking if you do some looking, you’ll easily find free Wi-Fi within Wrexham town centre either at one of the local pubs, McDonalds, B&B’s and even the Cinema. However it’s worth noting that sometimes using free Wi-Fi to access the internet can mean you’re putting yourself at risk from a security perspective. Remember, just because something costs nothing up front doesn’t mean it’s safe to use. Often the free Wi-Fi connection is offered by a non technical business person, who may be ignorant to the dangers themselves.

Three common types of Wi-Fi access:

  1. Free and run by a larger organisation like www.thecloud.net – These require membership registration and subsequent login screens every time you use the service
  2. Free but needs an encryption password often obtained from the owner of the business
  3. Free and unencrypted

All three of these options have security issues

Man in the middle attack

Example I could sit in Starbucks with my laptop, having connected to their network normally I would then turn on a second wireless card in my laptop that then broadcasts that it is also a Starbucks Wi-Fi Connection. Your laptop joins my bogus network and I pass on your requests to the real Starbucks network. All of your data then passes through my laptop and I can read it, see your passwords, inject malicious code or just access your computer.

Packet sniffing

Whilst sounding rude, it is a rather nefarious way was reading your data on a network. Packet Sniffers or Network Analysers will read any unencrypted data that is travelling across a network.

Open shares

If you have shared folders on your laptop they may be viewable to other people on the Wi-Fi network

The best advice when dealing with Wi-Fi is to use a trusted provider and make sure you connect to the Access Point that you mean to. If there are several AP’s broadcasting with the same or similar name, be wary of the man in the middle attack.

 

Security is always key

  1. Always use a Full Security Suite and not a free Anti Virus package, not only is it more comprehensive it will ask what kind of network you are attaching to and adjust the firewall accordingly.
  2. There is a firefox plug-in that forces visited websites to use their most secure login option available, thus protecting you. This add-on is called Force-TLS. Using Force-TLS, along with being aware of who’s looking over your shoulder when entering in passwords, will do wonders for making your Wi-Fi experiences much safer.
  3. If you are as paranoid as I am you could utilise a VPN. This is a Virtual Private Network or secure data tunnel from your computer, over the suspect internet connection to a secure server. This server then puts your data back on the internet at a safer location. There are many Free and paid for VPN services (I use one when I go abroad).

 

Comments are closed.