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Public WiFi puts you at risk of bank data theft, European cybercop warns

Free and open public WiFi hotspots are increasingly being used by criminals to steal personal data, warns a top European cybercop. 

Troels Oerting, head of Europol’s cybercrime centre, is urging customers not to access online banking or similar services in cafes and coffee shops that offer free WiFi unprotected by any kind of verification system. 

Speaking to BBC Click, Oerting said: “They should do this from home where they know actually the WiFi and its security, but not if you are in a coffee shop somewhere you shouldn’t access your bank or do all of these things that actually transfer very sensitive information.” 

Public WiFi puts you at risk of bank data theft, European cybercop warns
Would you use the free, unsecured WiFi in THIS internet cafe?

“Everything that you send through the WiFi is potentially at risk, and this is something that we need to be very concerned about both as individual users but also as police,” he added. 

In the UK, venues are legally required to regulate access to WiFi services under the terms of RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000) and DEA (Digital Economy Act 2010). By forcing customers to sign in, venues can create a register of who has used what and when. 

The so-called Social WiFi company Purple WiFi aims to take some of the logistics for venue owners out of this by allowing customers to sign in with their Facebook accounts. A report published by Purple WiFI last year revealed that over half of the public WiFi hotspots in the UK were unsecured. 

A previous report by security firm AdaptiveMobile revealed that many operators of WiFi hotspots did not filter access to adult sites, which until recently, were the web’s primary source of malware

Image: Ivan Bandura/Flickr

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