Hackers prey on those connecting to free Wi-Fi to steal information

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 10:59 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 1 at 11:28 PM

 (KMOV) – Police are issuing a warning to those who use wireless internet access at public places across the area.

Hackers are creating fake Wi-Fi accounts to access your email and banking information.

The tech-savvy criminals are tricking people into thinking they are using the correct Wi-Fi network. At Kayak’s Coffee on Skinker Boulevard, connecting to their Wi-Fi network is a daily routine for hundreds of college students

“Most of them on laptops; If not, some sort of mobile device,” said Matt Foster of Kayak’s Coffee.

Cyber Security expert Dr. Alan Johnson with Washington University showed News 4’s Jasmine Huda how easy it is to set up a fake network.

“They don’t even need to come inside. they can be on the parking lot or they could be on the street,” said Dr. Johnson. “There’s the real Kayak’s Wi-Fi network. But if I scroll down here, here’s the kayak’s fake network.”

A strong signal strength can make a fake Wi-Fi network seem like the real deal and that’s when your personal information is no longer private.

Like at an airport. It will say free Wi-Fi. In most cases, it’s probably not free Wi-Fi. It’s probably somebody playing around with these tools, or somebody really trying to get people to connect and see what they can get,” said Dr. Johnson.

To make sure they don’t get you..., Johnston says pay attention to the correct Wi-Fi network name.

Only use encrypted sites ...remember to look for the “s” in the URL.  Some web tools automatically connect you a virtual private network or VPN is another tool. Police warn anyone who uses Wi-Fi networks to beware.

“I guess you kind of forget about it because it becomes a natural part of life. You know I have to set up my computer. I have to work. I have to study,” said Cheeraz Gorman.

Wi-Fi is okay; just make sure you can spot what’s real, from what’s not.

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