Local tech experts said you don’t have to worry about what you do over free wi-fi, but how you connect to it.
These days internet connections are all around us and being in such an increasingly tech-savvy society, we all want to be connected in one way or another.
But not all connections are created equal.
“I really just think it takes a little bit of instinct and a lot of caution,” Texarkana College VP of Information Technology, Michael Dumdei, said.
The tech team at Texarkana College showed KNWA just how easy it is to be tricked.
“And I click on install program, and I have to override this, and I say yes,” Dumdei said. “And it tells me the plugin is installed and I am now compromised.”
The hacker creates a ‘dummy wi-fi connection’, using a business’s name, encouraging users to download a special program to connect to the internet.
Dumdei said it’s a danger for both PC and Mac users.
‘In order to connect up to WiFi, you should never have to install an installer and so the whole point of this hack was to trick you into putting something on your computer that shouldn’t be on your computer,” Dumdei said.
By using legitimate-looking landing pages, hackers earn your trust.
“A real hacker is going to do their research, and they’re going to understand their target,” Dumdei said. “And if they understand their target, they are going to create a much better attack.”
The hacker can see every site visited and every keystroke submitted, even passwords.
Dumdei said this is what makes the attacks so concerning because it is almost undetectable.
You will likely notice your internet browsing much slower than normal since your data is running through a middle man, experts said.
If you are a victim of this phony wi-fi connection hack, even login information shared via secured websites is still visible.
“We’ve been trained all along that as long as you see that https up there and that little padlock, everything’s good to go. And it is, for the most part,” Dumdei said.
The little icon on the website means the website you are on uses a secure connection.
“They can see where you’re going, but they can’t see what you’re doing once you’re there,” Dumdei said.
The HTTPS signal acts as a scrambler and provides an extra layer of protection for your information.
“Unless you have the descrambler on the other end, nobody can understand what’s going on,” Dumdei said.
To really play it safe, experts recommend using multi-factor authentication websites.
When you log in to participating sites, the site asks for you to verify it’s you by sending a text or requiring a fingerprint scan.
It may take you a little extra effort to log in, but it adds extra peace of mind for your personal information.
So Dumdei said the bottom line is “If you’re not sure about it, just don’t do it. Especially if it’s something that’s just kind of optional. If it’s like that, there’s no sense in risking your pc, or your bank account.”