Hotspot users should already be aware of risks, say experts
Europol’s warning to the BBC that free WiFi spots pose a data risk has prompted some backlash from the IT industry.
Security advisor at F-Secure, Sean Sullivan, told CBR: "Europol has issued a warning due to a growing number of attacks? Better late than never, I suppose. But really, this has been a concern for years, that’s why sensible companies force employees to use VPN connections."
Carl Leonard, senior security research manager at Websense was in agreement, telling CBR that although public WiFi threats have not quite received mainstream notoriety, this warning was not unforeseen by the IT security community as man-in-the-middle (MITM) instances always have the potential to seriously affect a multitude of industries.
"Cybercriminals with nefarious intentions can set up a rogue wireless hotspot and give it an official sounding name, such as ‘Airport_Official’, to attract the unaware," he said.
But Sullivan insists that people can still use free WiFi so long as they realise that free does not mean secure.
He advised: "If you want to use an open Wi-Fi hotspot to search for the latest sports scores, go for it. But if you want to check your bank balance, read your email, have a private chat with your friends: get yourself a VPN service."