If you live in New York City and you own a cell phone, you’ve probably noticed that once you turn on your Wi-Fi you have a long list of available hotspots to choose from and often e few open ones that don’t require a password. Starbucks, McDonalds, some beaches, and even people that never set up Wi-Fi passwords, offer free Wi-Fi. While this is great for people that want to stay connected to the internet world, it is also great for hackers that want your personal information.
As per security firm Forter, this is why New York has the highest rate of mobile fraud. Mobile fraud in New York makes up for 39.3% of its total online fraud. The next states on the list are Maryland, at 27.7%, Washington DC, at 23.5%, California’s 22% and Connecticut’s 21.5%.
“The truth is, fraudsters take the path of least resistance. If the point-of-sale at physical retailers is hardened they won’t go there if there are easier targets,” says William Zielke, chief marketing officer for security at Forter. This is why it is expected that mobile fraud might increase by as much as 50% within two years, starting from October of this year.
October is the month that the EMV payment standard goes into effect in the U.S. The new cards, that store that data on integrated circuits rather than magnetic stripes, are designed to reduce credit card payment fraud. This will make it much harder for cyber thieves to steal your information at he point of sale, hence the increase in mobile fraud. There’s also a shift in liability come October. Retailers that do not upgrade to credit card equipment that can read these chip-enabled credit cards will be liable for the breaches.
How is your information stolen over Wi-Fi?
A quarter of the adults who use the Internet, access it via public Wi-Fi once a week or more. More than a quarter (27 percent) said they’ve banked online via public Wi-Fi in the last three months. An identical percentage had purchased a product or service with a credit card this way, an AARP survey found.
If one of these connections is hacked, then thieves can see everything you’re doing. They have two methods of hacking Wi-Fi connections:
- Evil Twin Attack: They create Wi-Fi hotspots that have the same or nearly identical name of the legitimate ones you trust, such as a favorite hotel or coffee shop.
- Man in the Middle Attack: They provide a stronger Wi-Fi signal to get between you and the legitimate connection.
They can see all unencrypted communication that happens while you are connected to the Internet. This includes email messages, credit card account information, user names and passwords etc. That’s why it’s troubling that such a high percentage of people conduct banking businesses over unsecured Wi-Fi connections. “Nine out of 10 times, they were after the user name-password (combination),” Said Doug Shadel of AARP Fraud Watch Network.
How to protect yourself?
Never do any banking or anything else dealing with financial matters over unprotected Wi-Fi networks. If tryping in any sensitive information, make sure you’re doing it over a trustworthy WiFi, which is usually your home, or workplace. This way you know who directly controls it.
Even at home you have to make sure that you Wi-Fi network has the best security. 84% of people in the AARP survey did not know that the most up-to-date security for a home Wi-Fi network is not WEP — Wired Equivalent Privacy. Experts advise using at least WPA2 wireless encryption for better protection against the same sort of eavesdropping that occurs on public Wi-Fi networks.