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By 12 November 2012 | Categories: news

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South Africans are being warned to exercise caution when accessing Wi-Fi in spaces such as airports, as increasing numbers of local users risk having sensitive personal information captured whilst using free Wi-Fi.
 
This according to internet security software provider ESET, who believes logging online to check bank balances, online shopping or sending emails over an unsecured Wi-Fi network, is a goldmine for cybercriminals.
 
“The airport is the ideal time to grab your laptop and send out a couple of emails using the free Wi-Fi hotspot offered at most airports – you connect and send, and are off on your way.  What you don’t know is that the free Wi-Fi may come with a hefty price tag, namely your sensitive data and online banking login credentials,” says Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO of ESET Southern Africa.
 
What to watch out for

Unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots with unrecognisable names or ones that closely resemble the name of the official hotspot should raise immediate flags.  Be especially wary of unsecured hotspots – they often don’t require the user to use a password to gain access and validate user authenticity.
 
Whenever you shop online, log in to check your back balance or catch up on e-mails, your computer has to send the login information across the Wi-Fi network. Normally, if you login to a bank website, you’ll see the bank address beginning with “https” rather than “http” which means the traffic is encrypted. If cybercriminals or online scammers succeed in capturing your encrypted credentials, they’re able to use software later on to decrypt it. “Always use caution and pay attention to detail when using free public Wi-Fi,” concludes van Vlaanderen
 
South Africans are cautioned to be aware of the following security threats whilst using free Wi-Fi:
 
• Evil Twin Login Interception: Networks set-up by hackers to resemble legitimate Wi-Fi hotspots.
• Sniffing: Computer software or hardware that can intercept and log traffic passing over a network.
• Data Leakage (man-in-the-middle attack): Cybercriminals can modify network traffic and let you think you are dealing with your bank while, in reality you are sending them all your credentials.
 
About ESET Southern Africa

ESET Southern Africa is a global leader and provider of internet security software for enterprises and consumers – dedicated to delivering instant, comprehensive and dynamic protection against evolving computer security threats.  With over 150 million users and partners in more than 160 countries, ESET remains the most awarded VB100 Antivirus recipient. ESET Southern Africa’s HQ is based in Cape Town and offers free telephonic technical and sales support for all partners and customers.
 
For more information about the ESET product range and Partner Program visit www.eset.co.za/za/partners/ or contact them: partner@eset.co.za | 0860 ESET SA.
 
Article first appeared in TechSmart 110, available free online here

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