November 28, 2020

Online Privacy: Data Are at High Risk of Theft Via Wi-Fi, Europol Warns

From the WSJ:

People shouldn’t send sensitive information over public Wi-Fi hot spots because it risks being stolen, the top cybercrime police officer at Europol warned Friday.

Troels Oerting, head of the cybercrime center at Europol—the agency co-ordinating the work of police forces across Europe—said consumers should send personal data only across networks they trust, given the growing number of attacks being carried out by hackers through via public Wi-Fi in places like shops, cafes and restaurants.

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Analysts said current protection afforded through public wireless networks is insufficient.

“No one has managed to find a way to certify security of systems or to charge for better security. The result is free software and free Wi-Fi that potentially puts everyone at risk,” said Martyn Thomas, an independent consultant software engineer at the U.K.’s Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Free wi-fi hotspots pose data risk, Europol warns (via BBC)

Comment From Gary

Data theft via wi-fi is not only a global issue and once again illustrates the need for users to gain a small amount of knowledge about what they can easily and quickly do to minimize this and related problems.

While no solution short of not using Wi-Fi and going online is perfect one type of service that can help is utilizing a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

There are thousands to chose from and the cost continues to come down. I currently pay about $8/month but it’s perhaps time that I do some pricing of other services not to mention to see what they provide vs. what I currently have with a service named WiTopia.

In the past 10 days I’ve been testing a new VPN service (Chrome only)  based in Germany that so far seems impressive.

See: ZenMate.io. I am going to continue paying for a service since it’s important to also use a VPN when on a mobile device. 

Finally, along with the extra layer of data encryption a VPN provides a second benefit is that you can often access geo-locked content by having an IP address from different countries and cities. 

If someone wants your data and has the resources or skills to get it they will probably succeed. Nevertheless, it’s still a good idea to place as many bumps in the road as possible. Said another way, make your data harder/more challenging to get than others.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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