WiFi experiment catches out ‘reckless’ MWC attendees
Avast’s researchers set up networks near the MWC registration booth at Barcelona Airport and found that many attendees took the risk of being spied by cyber criminals.The WiFi networks’ names were “Starbucks”, “Airport_Free_Wifi_AENA” and “MWC Free WiFi”, which are all expected or common SSIDs for public networks.
Some users’ devices are event set to automatically connect to networks with familiar names.In four hours, Avast says it saw more than eight million data packets from more than 2,000 users. It scanned the data, but did not store it so as to protect users’ privacy.
Nearly 62 per cent of users searched the web using Google or checked their Gmail accounts, while 15 per cent visited Yahoo and two per cent used Spotify.
52 per cent were found to have the Facebook app installed, while 2.4 per cent had Twitter’s offering on their devices, the research showed.
One per cent even used dating apps like Tinder and Badoo through the networks, and Avast could see the identity of 63.5 per cent of devices and their users.
“Many individuals recognise that surfing over open WiFi isn’t secure,” said Gagan Singh, president of mobile at Avast. “However, some of these same people aren’t aware that their device might automatically connect to a WiFi network unless they adjust their settings.
“With most Mobile World Congress visitors traveling from abroad, it’s not surprising to see that many opt to connect to free WiFi in order to save money, instead of using data roaming services.
“When taking this route, people should utilise a VPN service that anonymises their data while connecting to public hotspots to ensure that their connection is secure.”