Many people have become accustomed to accessing the Internet outside their homes and offices. Wi-Fi hot spots are common all over major cities, as well as in airports and coffee shops, nationwide. What you might not realize, however, is that your personal information could be placed at risk by the “evil twin” Wi-Fi hot spot.
Identity theft is a commonly-recognized threat to society, which means that criminals who are intent upon committing this crime must think of new and more clever ways of victimizing the public. Technology is developing at such a rapid rate that most people can’t keep up with the various risks, which is exactly what these criminals are hoping for. The “evil twin” Wi-Fi hot spot is just another example of this detrimental trend.
Essentially, this is a simple case of Wi-Fi hijacking. The criminals set up Wi-Fi service in an area where it is already provided, using a name that is similar to a common Wi-Fi service name, such as T-Mobile. They assume that you won’t question the difference in the name (tmobile or tmoble) and they ask for your credit card number so that you can access the Wi-Fi hot spot. Once you’ve entered that information, they have enough data to use your credit card themselves, and you won’t question the issue until you get your monthly statement.
Not only that, but if you are duped by the “evil twin” Wi-Fi hot spot, your passwords and Internet browsing history are likewise vulnerable to hackers. They save the information about where you’ve been, hoping to get other information that might allow them to use your financial information for their own benefit. If you access your online banking, for example, they’ll have your Username and password. Obviously, this is a very real threat.
If you’re going to use Wi-Fi hot spots to access the Internet, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from the “evil twin” scam.
Don’t Be Tempted by False Security. All of the anti-virus software in the world won’t protect you from the “evil twin” Wi-Fi scam, so don’t think that just because your computer is protected, you don’t have to worry. Since the “evil twin” hot spot acts no differently than a legitimate one, your computer isn’t going to block their monitoring of your activities.
Pay Careful Attention to the Name. It is almost impossible for hackers to pull off the “evil twin” W-Fi hot spot perfectly. The name of the service provider will differ — if only slightly — from the legitimate provider. If you come across a name that sounds funny, disconnect from the service and notify the owner of the establishment in which you are using Wi-Fi service.
Use Wi-Fi in Known Establishments. Your risks of being duped by the “evil twin” Wi-Fi scam are increased when you use Wi-Fi service in unknown areas. Find a place where you trust the service and don’t access the Internet anywhere else. Common places for Wi-Fi interference are airports and coffee shops, so make sure you’ve investigated the area thoroughly before logging on.
Notify the Police Immediately. The only way “evil twin” Wi-Fi scammers will be stopped is if the public does everything they can to prevent this from continuing. If you think you have stumbled upon a scam, call the police immediately. A technical response team can trace the signal from the unknown Wi-Fi provider and may be able to stop future occurrences.