Reselive, Telenor | Avoid this holiday scam

Reselive, Telenor | Avoid this holiday scam

– Criminals can take advantage of this. In a matter of minutes, they can steal passwords and personal information, explains Daniel Christensen, an ethical hacker at Telenor.

If you're going out and about this summer, it might be a good idea to be extra careful when logging onto free Wi-Fi. There's no guarantee that security is as good as it is on your home network.

Even though it’s vacation time, most of us are still online a lot. We read emails, check social media, and check our online banking a lot during the summer. That’s why many of us take advantage of free guest networks when we travel.

According to a YouGov survey for Telenor, 51 percent say they log on to the guest network in hotels, cafes and restaurants, for example, when they are on holiday. Among 18-29 year olds, the figure is even higher. Here, 60 percent said they would accept offers of free Wi-Fi in the summer.

Gift package for criminals

Public networks can be practical, but they can also be gifts for criminals, says Daniel Christensen, an ethical hacker at Telenor.

Even if a network is password protected, it is still considered open if everyone knows the password. This is often the case in hotels, restaurants, and airports. This makes it easy for criminals to get in.

– Christensen points out that another important reason to be more careful when using open networks is that routers in such places are often poorly protected and relatively easy to hack.

By accessing the router, anyone can monitor all traffic sent over the network.

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“If the router still has the standard password that came with it from the manufacturer, you can usually get into it in about ten minutes. After that, you can infect the router, so you can monitor the traffic and get an overview of the different devices on the network,” says Christensen.

– Most websites encrypt data sent over the network. However, a hacker with access to your router can redirect you to a fake website via pop-ups or when you enter specific addresses into the search field. From there, they can easily retrieve your username and password.

Reveals information

However, it’s not just usernames and passwords that hackers might be looking for. When you log into a network, information about your device is also revealed, which could provide criminals with valuable information.

– Using the data shared with the router, you can get a lot of information about the device you are connecting to. If criminals see, for example, that there are beautiful and expensive tablets in a hotel room, they can be used to plan a robbery. If the network password is recorded at the reception, in principle anyone can access and monitor when guests arrive with expensive devices, says Christensen.

Use mobile network or VPN

A good rule of thumb, Christensen says, is to always use mobile networks and roam when using apps and checking websites where you provide sensitive information like online banking or email.

– On a mobile network, all traffic is encrypted anyway, so you're safe here. If you have the opportunity to use data roaming while on vacation, this is often the best and safest solution.

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If you don’t have the opportunity to use data or want to stream or download large amounts of data, Christensen recommends getting a VPN before you log on to a Wi-Fi network. VPN stands for virtual private network, and it gives you a secure line of sight when you log on to open wireless networks.

– By using a VPN, you can be sure that all data sent from the device is encrypted and no one can track your device, he concludes.

You should consider this if you sign in to open guest networks:

  • Is it possible that free Wi-Fi is provided at this particular location? Could there be an ulterior motive?
  • If you forgot to log in or register, you should be alert.
  • Be careful if you are directed to a page (shadow page) where you are asked to enter a username, password, card information, or other sensitive personal information.
  • Are two or more networks displayed with the same or similar name? Often, the provider only has one guest network. Therefore, you should carefully look at the list of networks offered to you.

Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

"Web specialist. Lifelong zombie maven. Coffee ninja. Hipster-friendly analyst."

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