Bkav issues alert on safety of free wi-fi

Friday, Dec 05, 2014 15:13

Wifi SSID Spoofing attack model. According to a research by Viet Nam's security corporation Bkav, spoof wifi is a serious threat for users using public free wifi. — Photos taken from the research
HA NOI (Biz Hub) — Free wi-fi hotspots in Vietnamese cities and towns are unsafe for users, said Bkav Security, a member company of Bkav Corporation.

The firm carried out a study from August to November at five places that offer free public wi-fi: Hoi An, Ha Long, Da Nang, Hai Phong and Tam Dao.

Researchers accessed the free wi-fi and did attack tests. They found that users could be easily attacked in three ways, which are the man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack, phishing and SSID spoofing.

According to Bkav, MitM attacks and phishing are the most popular forms of attacks, posing the highest risks to users. MitM attacks use address resolution protocol mechanisms to eavesdrop on users. Phishing involves building a spoof website that attacks the domain name system (DNS) to navigate and trick users into accessing it.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) information is leaked when an user connects free wifi in Hai Phonga and Da Nang.

Spoof wi-fi is also a serious threat. When users connect to spoof wi-fi that have names similar to genuine ones, including HaiPhong@Wifi and DaNangWifi, attacks by MitM and phishing become much easier.

Do Dac Khanh, leader of the research team, said that the risks stem from limitations on security control in free wi-fi to allow convenience and ease of use for users. "When using free wi-fi, people should not use services that require important personal information such as logging into email, social networks and doing online transactions," he said.

The firm's experts recommended that users should use virtual private networks (VPN) to set up safe information-exchange channels. They also suggested that people should use anti-virus software and turn on firewalls regularly to protect their computers.

When the study was held, seven cities and towns were offering free wi-fi. However, Hue and Da Lat cities offered free wi-fi only on the occasion of Festival Hue 2014 in April 2014 and the 2013 Da Lat Culture and Tourism Week in December respectively. After the events, the free wi-fi was not available or users could not access to the Internet. — VNS

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