Extremes of Public Wi-Fi

As a young man in the security industry, never in my life before did I ever think of the internet impacting the world the way it has today. I mean from social media handles in 2014 such as to-go, face-book and now to WhatsApp and a robust network of free Wi-Fi. Good times. But what does this mean for security in our country? Gain or loss? More opportunities or risks?

The effect of a global information space forming which has practically given us a strong impetus to human progress at the same time has birthed an adverse effect. Today Cyber-crime and Cyber-terrorism are not just words, they have become a real threat to humanity. Has your data been pilferaged before? Use of public Wi-Fi has become popular today in our cultural settings. Businesses, airports, transport systems, office, schools have all been wired by Wi-Fi. What lingers is, as much as we are joining the band wagon of connectivity – are we ready to handle the risks? Consumers of mobile devices, computer gadgets and internet need a galloping knowledge about digital security. Because whilst very convenient to use, there remains hidden security risks we all got to know about.

Being Victimized

Packet-sniffing, enabled by Smartphones is able to stream information in a local area network which substantially increases the risk of a person becoming a victim. We got to understand that sharing connections in platforms, allows the public to read your data and track your-online activity.

Puzzled? Are you using the same username and password for multiple accounts? Very risky. A unanimous attacker could steal your credentials and destroy your content far much more than your Twitter or Facebook account. That is how confidential and private information is practically hampered. Growth of e-commerce businesses in our vicinity such as AMAZON and JUMIA offer great opportunity for this type of offenders .Not forgetting now mobile banking. Attackers normally start by looking at your browsing history. If one passes cookies unencrypted or log in to websites that don’t use HTTP’S, he/she will virtuously begin by looking at a pattern and use such encrypted data to log into your accounts. Be careful.

Be Weary of Malicious Wi-Fi Hotspots

As much as we are quick to be on the go in terms of surfing and solving our businesses. We got to be aware of the both the local area network and the wide area network. What is the Wi-Fi hot-spot of your company business? Wi-Fi hotspots can be basically named anything the owner would like. I was having a discussion with my Innovation Department Leader, Dennis Macharia of what could make our staff members to know that our company’s free access was the official one. Any malicious attacker; be it internal or external can easily be able to set up a clandestine hotspot and name it whatever they wanted.

As you browse, your traffic is normally recorded and later analyzed for any sensitive data that may prove useful in compromising your accounts. We therefore encourage folks that instead of just connecting to any arbitrary Wi-Fi hotspot, check with the establishment to ensure your connectivity to the official WI-FI and not malicious hot-spot.

Malicious ADS

Digital AD industry has been growing sporadically for the past 5 years which can seemingly be attributed to the internet and online businesses. Companies have been made aware of the problem and mitigating procedures are now being followed to avert any threats to a business.

One hacking into legitimate websites and inserting malicious ads is a lot of work. That’s why from experience cybercriminals typically pose as business people to get their malverstising online. Ads are part of public Wi-Fi network and even if hackers are checked they will still find ways around the screenings.

How to Protect Your Business

Educate employees about malvertising and be sure to discuss at length the dangers of clicking in ADS, as the ADS might be malicious.

  • Employees need to be notified about the dangers of allowing pop-ups and re-directs. Tell employees about the dangers of allowing pop-ups and redirects. Most modern web browsers block pop-ups and redirects by default, but this functionality can be manually disabled .Let employees know this is dangerous since malvertising sometimes uses both pop-ups and re-directs. Similarly, let them know they should not enable web content that has been disabled by their web browsers or security software, as it might contain malicious ads.
  • Uninstall browser plug-ins and extensions not being used. This will reduce the computers attack surface. For the plug-ins and extensions being used consider configuring web browsers so that plug-ins and extensions are automatically disabled but can be manually enabled on a case by case basis.
  • Update software regularly, including browser plugins and extensions. Exploit kits look for known vulnerabilities in software. Patching these vulnerabilities helps eliminate entry points into devices.
  • Install ad blockers. Ad blockers remove or modify all ad content on web pages. However they might unintentionally –block no ad content a web page to display improperly or not at all.

Notably we got to know that free Wi-Fi is tempting but remember to protect yourself from data theft. Avoid public Wi-Fi when possible and misleading Ads. For professionals use VPNs when you have no other choice and always make sure to confirm the authenticity of the HOTSPOT before you connect. Cyber-security is everyone’s responsibility; protect your information at business, office and work.

Musumba Tim is a Security Professional, (FORENSICS). His recent works include media, crime, PSRA ACT, INTERNET CULTURE IN KENYA, CYBER SECURITY, MATURING IN THE PRIVATE SECURITY INDUSTRY, SOCIAL MEDIA AS N INHIBITOR TO PERFORMANCE CRIMES, ROLE OF WOMEN IN SECURITY.

CURRENT RESEARCH FOCUSES ON COMPUTER VISION, SPACE SURVEILLANCE CAMERA SYSTEMS. INNOVATION DEPARTMENT.

ORIGINAL WORKS OF SENACA EAST AFRICA.
Article by Musumba Tim 2019

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