VPN – How thieves can use your mobile to empty your bank account via dodgy public WiFi connections and ‘bluesnarfing’
However, because you have connected to a network controlled by a thief, he can monitor everything you do, enabling him to vacuum up passwords and login details for your bank account.
In fact, the process is so simple that the thieves can steal thousands of pounds in just a few hours while sitting in their local Starbucks.
In order to show just how easy it is — and quite how trusting people are — the security firm Sophos decided to set up its own Wi-Fi networks on the streets of London to prove how much data it could capture. The firm sent head of security research James Lyne to tour the capital on a bicycle equipped with its own Wi-Fi generator, under various names: ‘FreePublicWifi’, ‘Free Internet’, and even, somewhat cheekily, ‘DO NOT CONNECT’.
Within three hours, 2,907 people had connected to his network. One hundred and three of those used it to access a banking service. Had Mr Lyne been a criminal, he could have easily accessed their accounts and helped himself to their money. Even if he had skimmed just £100 from each account, he would have made over £10,000 — not bad for a morning’s work.
‘This willingness to connect to any wireless network that professes to offer free Wi-Fi, without ensuring you have some kind of security measures in place, is like shouting your personal or company information out of the nearest window and being surprised when someone abuses it,’ says Mr Lyne.
By far the best way is to set up your own Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your computer at home. Then, when you are using a public Wi-Fi hotspot, you can use your smartphone to connect to your home computer, and use its secure connection to the internet to access web pages safely.
Watch a VPN in action – IVPN
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