Skip to main content

Public Wi-Fi Weakness Puts Smartphone Users’ Privacy At Risk

Britons who connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots with their Smartphones and tablets are at a risk of exposing their credit card information to hackers, an investigation undertaken by the Guardian newspaper has discovered.

According to a report (opens in new tab) on The Guardian, volunteers were able to procure user names, passwords and text messages from Smartphones which were connected to Wi-Fi hotspot in a public area.

The investigation discovered that when it comes to Smartphones like the popular Apple iPhone 4, hackers are able to harvest information without users’ knowledge and even when users were not actively surfing the web.

Meanwhile BT, which offers more than five million "Openzone" public Wi-Fi connections across train stations, hotels and airports in the UK, has been aware of the problem for years but is yet to fix it.

Crooks are capable luring Wi-Fi users by setting up fake Wi-Fi gateways that mimic legitimate services using communications equipment that costs £49 and software that can be downloaded from the internet for free.

“An O2 iPhone will automatically connect, because BT Openzone connectivity is usually part of the package for free internet access. It will pass over its credentials and because it can see the internet through the hotspot, it will start sending and receiving data” Jason Hart, chief executive of the security company Cryptocard, said in a statement.

Ravi Mandalla was ITProPortal's Sub Editor (and a contributing writer) for two years from 2011. Based in Ahmedabad, India, Ravi is now the owner and founder of Parity Media Pvt. Ltd., a news and media company, which specializes in online publishing, technology news and analysis, reviews, web site traffic growth, web site UI. Ravi lists his specialist subjects as: Enterprise, IT, Technology, Gadgets, Business, High Net Worth Individuals, Online Publishing, Advertising, Marketing, Social Media, News, Reviews, Audio, Video, and Multi-Media. He has also previously worked as Dy. Manager - IT Security at (n)Code Solutions.