Cyber Chat Episode 11 – The problem with public Wi-Fi

In episode 11 of Cyber Chat Rob May talks about the security risks of connecting to public Wi-Fi and why you should avoid using it.

Managing the ongoing cybersecurity of your IT infrastructure should be a primary concern – whatever the shape or size of your organisation. Cybersecurity breaches are the number one threat in today’s business landscape. Incidents come in many forms: cyber attacks; laptops left on trains; malicious staff; or, even more simply, accidental data loss caused by human error. The human firewall is vital as a line of defence for any organisation and in this video Rob, author of The Human Firewall (available on Amazon) explains what the Human Firewall is.

Find out more about ramsac’s cybersecurity services

Cyber Chat – Episode 11 – video transcript

Hi, I’m Rob May, I’m MD of ramsac and welcome to Cyber Chat. Today, I want to talk to you about mobile phones. Mobile phones worry me. We all carry so much information around on our phones and our phones, whether there out personal phones or work phones are an extension of our working life and are working environment and they carry a whole load of data. And because of that they are a risk.

There’s 2 stories I want to share with you. The first is, I was at a cyber security conference and the whole audience were cyber experts and we sat there waiting for it to start and on the screen, across the top of the screen, it had the name of the wireless network. And when the speaker came onto the stage, he said hello, and he said how nice it was to be talking to a cyber audience and he said “Quick show of hands, who here would connect their mobile device to a wireless network, that they know nothing about?” And nobody put their hand up and he said, “That’s what I would expect from this audience. It’s not what I would expect from the general public, but it is what I would expect from this audience.” Anyway, he did his morning session and we were just about to stop for coffee and he said, “let me just check those stats again. Just before we finish for coffee”, he said, “Who here would connect their mobile device to a wireless network that they know nothing about?” and no one put their hand up, so we stop for coffee. We come back in afterwards and he walked onto the stage and he said, “You lot lie”. He said let me show you something and he proceeded to do a slide show of photographs that you wouldn’t want your mother to see that he’d taken off people’s mobile phones in the audience. And people were just dying of embarrassment. It was such a great lesson. But the point is people do connect their mobile devices to wireless networks they know nothing about.

The second story, and its linked to this, is there’s a scam, that in the industry is called the Starbucks scam. It’s got nothing to do with Starbucks. This is applicable to any coffee shop or public place. And the way this works is you walk into a coffee shop, in this case, Starbucks. and you take out your mobile phone, looking for Wi-Fi and at the top of the list, you see Starbucks free Wi-Fi. The thing is Starbucks don’t call their Wi-Fi, Starbucks free Wi-Fi. Starbucks free Wi-Fi is a crook sat in the corner of the coffee shop with his laptop broadcasting a wireless access point. And if you connect your mobile device to that Wi-Fi point He’s then able to install a piece of software on your device and whether that’s pulling down photographs or passwords or installing a key logger or whatever it is. It’s a security risk and you need to think about this.

This happens, a lot in hotels. So you’re in a hotel, you’re in the bar, you take out your phone, And you look for Wi-Fi points and there’s a whole load of Wi-Fi points and one of them might say hotel bar. The point is do you know that, that is the actual hotel Wi-Fi? My advice is if you don’t have to use public Wi-Fi, Don’t. Use your 4 G. If you have to use it. Talk to the staff and make sure that you are connecting to a legit Wi-Fi. So, ask the bartender, What is the Wi-Fi in this hotel? But, use public Wi-Fi with caution and just think about your mobile phone and what a risk that is when it comes to cyber. Thank you for listening and I look forward to talking to you again soon.