As industries shift from physical to digital means of conducting business, the need for constant internet access is emerging as a necessity for many.
This has made public Wi-Fi a valuable resource as it provides an efficient way to keep up with work while on the go. However as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Public Wi-Fi hotspots are one of the leading causes of data breaches among small to mid-sized businesses, and they are one of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to a company’s private information.
Research shows that 75 percent of all Americans have used public Wi-Fi in the last year. Of that 75 percent, Symantec reported that 87 percent of those users had their information leaked onto the dark web,
The same features that make free Wi-Fi desirable to traveling workers is also what makes it desirable to hackers—it requires no authentication to establish a network connection. This creates an easy opportunity for hackers to get access to private information. If one of your employees happens to fall victim to a hacker, your company’s private information may be at risk.
When successful, the hacker has the ability to view stored data, which can lead to corporate accounting and confidential client information being exposed to the dark web.
To better understand how hackers succeed in compromising your devices, here are the top 3 ways a hacker can use public Wi-Fi hotspots to compromise your company’s most sensitive information:
Man in the Middle
Man in the Middle is the most common risk. This refers to an attack whereby a third party intercepts communications from your laptop and begins impersonating the normal functions of an internet browser. Instead of data being shared directly between the server (you) and the client (the Wi-Fi hotspot) privately, the hacker now accesses all of your internet browser history and then redirects the traffic to the normal destination, without you knowing.
Rogue Wi-Fi Networks: “Evil Twin”
The hacker creates a mock Wi-Fi Hotspot with a name that mimics the location’s actual connection point. This Wi-Fi connection will look unassuming, however, it gives exclusive access to the hacker if connected to. This gives the hacker the ability to look at all your online activity.
This attack may appear to be the most obvious to avoid. This refers to the attacker obtaining your personal information through direct observation. This is especially effective in crowded places, and is commonplace for public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Public Wi-Fi hotspots can be an easy gateway for hackers to access your company’s private information. Whether the breach involves man-in-the-middle tactics, rogue Wi-Fi networks or shoulder surfing, your business can be at great risk.
Educate your employees on these exposures and protect your company while you still can.
Stay tuned for a follow up post that explains the best practices for employees and companies on how to protect their private information against these Wi-Fi breaches.
If you have questions about the topics covered in this article or if you’re interested in learning how your company can be better equipped to avoid these challenges, please contact me.