Free Wi-Fi Dangers

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Free Wi
-
Fi
Dangers

June 28,2010

CS 110

Summer 2010

Online Section

David Hernandez


Years go by and
technology

seems to above and beyond our wildest imagination.
With everything moving so fast and communication being a concern to many in the
world, constant communication has become a crucial necessity.
I
t

has gotten to the
point where missed call or email may cost

someone time and money

With developing of mobile devices for our
convenience

purposes have an
integrated
Wi
-
Fi

capabilities or
Wi
-
Fi

receiver installed in them allowing them to connect
to any
Wi
-
Fi

transmission b
eing broadcasted.
(Brian, and Wilson)

And wi
th the growing
avai
lib
il
ity

of free
Wi
-
Fi

and hotspots, it is allowing people to be connected to the
internet at

all times. Using these free
Wi
-
Fi

spots has also resulted an increasing
vulnerability to
Internet

dangers.

Free
Wi
-
Fi

hotspots are ever expanding being offered at fast
-
food restaurants
café’s, lounges, libraries and even on city streets and parks. These
Wi
-
Fi

areas use a
router and hubs to transmit the signals allowing users to
surf

the web
(Kayne)
. Working
in a similar m
ethod as
cell phones

and television using
radio waves
, establishing a two
-
way communication connection. The Internet device, such as a laptop, receiving the
wireless signal from router while the device sends signals back
(Brian, and Wilson)
.

The
wireless ro
uter, which has a wired connection to the
Internet

via Ethernet cables, will
send the data it receives from the device to the
Internet

and data from the
Internet

back
to computer.

Wireless routers can be secured by setting up security

or encryption

key. Wh
ich
will limit the number of people that have access to connect to the router. Many Free
Wi
-
Fi

spots do not require a security key

nor an encryption key
. If these
Wi
-
Fi

spots did
require a security key

or encryption key

it would hinder the accessibility to

those who
seek to use the
Internet
(Kayne)
. By not having a key it makes it easier for anyone to
connect.

As mentioned earlier, the router broad cast signals to computer and the computer
to routers. In other words the router and computer are exchanging a d
ialogue
(Kayne)
.
For example, if five computers are connected to the router therefore the router is having
five dialogues going on. If we are to put this scenario in a loaded cafeteria

and
conversation was going on between five people someone can easily ea
vesdrop on the
conversation and dialogue happening.

Well using the free
Wi
-
Fi

spot is the same
situation is able to occur.

T
he truth lies in the matter of that these free
Wi
-
Fi

spots are not only referred to
as hotspots for internet access purposes, has also become hotspots for people’s
computer vulnerability to be exploited
.

The unsecure router makes it perfect for
any
one
to connect

to the router and potential gain

access to pe
rsonal information of other users
using the Free
Wi
-
Fi

hotspot
(Phifer)
.

During the dialogue period between the router and computer the intruder will
capture the data being sent, very much like when someone eavesdrop in a
conversation

in a cafeteria
. With
the right software tools the intruder will intercept almost anything and
everything. All the way from websites your visiting, usernames, password, emails and
data packs
that is

being sent through the internet
(Phifer)
. This information will be
intercepted

i
n the communication period where data is being sent between computer
and router. Think back to junior high school and elementary school when kids passed
notes across the room, imagine that one of the kids who was passing the note to get
destination, instea
d of passing it, will read it. Well that is what the intruder when
intercepting the data between computer and router.

This will be only possible

for the intruder to intercept the data is with

the proper
tools, data is converted to radio waves where the re
ceiver will receiver translate into
data
(Brian, and Wilson)
.

Having the right tools will allow them to intercept the data and
translate it.

This type of intrusion happen
s

greatly when people stumble upon an
unprotected wireless network where they can just

connect.

These networks are usually
setup to take advantage of unsuspecting users that have no idea that all their data they
are sending through internet maybe being logged and recorded
(Phifer)
.

The increasing the number of Free Wi
-
Fi hotspots that are in
creasing and it is
such a convenience factor.
The fact

t
hat you have the power of being mobile and being
connected to internet

can have advantages. There are many dangers to using these

free
Wi
-
Fi

hotspots. Users must take extra precautions when connecting

to
Wi
-
Fi

networks.

One may be at risk of port probing which is when one tries to crack into
computer via any open ports a computer may have. There are software tools that will
scan for open ports that will not only help the crackers to find open port but
will help
owner protect themselves by simply closing them via firewall and turning of file sharing,
which are only two methods of doing such
(Brian, and Wilson)
.

Popular reason for using the free
Wi
-
Fi

hotspots is to be checking various
accounts that require one to login. Such as email accounts, Banking accounts, social
-
networking sites and other accounts one may own
(Kayne)
. As we have clearly stated
that data can be intercepted when using
free
Wi
-
Fi
, t
he data retrieved can include email
accounts passwords, banking number, credit card numbers anything that is being sent
from computer to internet and vice
versa is

susceptible to

being retrieved from data. If
visiting one the sites that require log on info
rmation before logging in one should look at
the url and see if begins with ‘https’ versus ‘http’. ‘
Https
’ is much more secure and safer
because it
uses

point to point encryption
(Kayne)
. That means that the data before
leaving computer is encrypted and can

only
translate

by the destination computer or
server.
This means that if the data was intercepted they would not be able to translate
the data anyways and ultimately, preserving the data being sent by being concealed in
the encryption, such as password an
d email attachments.

In the survey conducted, the popular location that free
Wi
-
Fi

was used
in high

traffic areas such as fast
-
food restaurants and lounges, such as McDonalds, Panera
and Starbucks. Another popular location for these hotspots was used in an

airport. Free
Wi
-
Fi

has become a marketing tool, for
customer’s

convenience purposes and
has

even
become available on buses and trains. It being high traffic areas increase would be
hackers

perfect with the right tools,

cracking into unsuspecting computer

retrieving data
from susceptible users.

Many of the survey takers did admit to having used login information when using
the free
Wi
-
Fi

hotspot. Now many popular websites solely operate on point to point
while other
has

the ability but only after manually
entering the
URL

or clicking a certain
link. Now whether or not the survey takers use such a site is unknown, but if not they
run the risk of having accounts being hacked. Dependent on the data intercepted
hackers may have access to multiple accounts of a
user along with possible name,
addresses and banking information easily committing
identity

theft
(Phifer)
.

Using free
Wi
-
Fi

for casual surfing of web could be harmless, when it comes to
inputting

personal information

it is smart to proceed with caution. Ha
ving the proper
computer security doesn’t hurt either. Anti
-
virus, firewall
and keeping computer updated
with the operating system security patches and system packs are good habits to
practice to stop intruders and hackers from computer. Whether they
are

u
sing free
Wi
-
Fi

or a network set up at home. When a router is set up for personal use it is important to
use security key preferably a WPA encryption because they stronger and stop hacker
from picking up wireless traffic. WEP encryption can be easily broke
n with the proper
software.
(Kayne)

Proper precautions should be taken prior to connecting to internet. The internet
has become a great resource for knowledge and convenience. But has also introduced
various methods of malicious activity.

Work Cited


Brai
n, Marshall, and Tracey V. Wilson. "How WiFi Works."

How Stuff Works
.
HowStuffWorks, Inc., n.d. Web. 27 Jun 2010.
<http://www.howstuffworks.com/wireless
-
network.htm>.

Kayne, R. "Is it Safe to use Free WiFi?." Wise Geek. Conjecture Corporation, 15 Jun
2010.

Web. 27 Jun 2010. <http://www.wisegeek.com/is
-
it
-
safe
-
to
-
use
-
free
-
wifi.htm>.

Phifer, Lisa . "The security risk of "Free WiFi"." techtarget. TechTarget ANZ, 29 Aug
2010. Web. 27 Jun 2010.
<
http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com.au/articles/35014
-
The
-
security
-
risks
-
of
-
Free
-
Public
-
WiFi
-
>.