Using free Wi-Fi in Europe is risky

Internet users would do well to be extra careful when attempting to use public Wi-Fi hotspots in Europe, as hackers and cyber crooks have lately ramped up their efforts to steal personal and financial data sent over these unsecure networks.

The warning comes from Troels Oerting, the head of Europol’s cybercrime centre, who says that the law enforcement agencies is helping several European countries in the aftermath of these type of attacks.

“We should teach users that they should not address sensitive information while being on an open insecure Wi-Fi internet,” he pointed out for the BBC. “They should do this from home where they know actually the Wi-Fi and its security.”

Oerting says that the attackers aren’t inventing new attack techniques, but are using old, tried and true ones that still obviously work: they usually set up fake hotspots with a name (SSID) similar the one set up by coffee shops, stores, hotels, libraries and other public establishments. Once users connect to it and start using it, all information they send out is captured by the criminals.

There are a number of things you can do and precautions you can take to make sure that you are as safe as you can be while using public Wi-Fi networks.

For one, you should avoid accessing services such as online banking, ePayment services or any site that stores payment information via open public Wi-Fi. If you simply must do some online banking, use your mobile data plan with your bank’s mobile app.

You can check out other helpful tips for keeping safe on public Wi-Fi here, here and here.

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