While waiting for a train or an appointment, many of us may occasionally take a quick look at our emails or our Whatsapp - in which case, we might use one of the free Wifi networks available almost everywhere. You would do well, however, to be wary, because surfing on a free Wifi network is not always risk-free. Cybercriminals can easily intercept your data on this type of network. 

As October is cybersecurity month, let’s raise awareness about this type of criminality.

Cybercriminals are particularly inventive

Cybercriminals may set up fake Wifi networks. Connecting to these fake networks allows them to steal your data (e.g. your passwords). Hackers can also redirect you to fake websites in order to install malware on your computer.

Sometimes, they also use a technique called Wifi sniffing. The cybercriminal sets up his / her laptop close to a Wifi hotspot. Using software and a particular type of Wifi adapter, he / she is able to capture all the information passing through the hotspot. The criminal then stores the information on his / her hard drive and later searches the data for the most interesting information, such as passwords or account numbers.

This might sound like something out of a sophisticated sci-fi movie, but it has happened in Luxembourg, so pay attention to what network you are connecting to!

5 tips to surf in complete safety

Install anti-virus software or a security application on your smartphone, tablet or computer. This protects them against viruses, spyware and hackers.

Beware of authentic-looking Wifi networks that may in fact be operated by cybercriminals. Always check whether the name of the hotspot is correct and do not connect to just any old network.

Make sure your device only connects to a network chosen by you, so that you know you’re using a secure connection. Do not allow your device to connect automatically to Wifi networks.

Avoid Wifi connections without passwords. Anyone can intercept Wifi signals and as soon as you are connected you will be communicating via a non-encrypted connection.

Finally, use your own provider whenever you want to consult your bank accounts, make online payments or send important data. This network is much more secure than a Wifi hotspot.

For similar articles, visit the ING blog: www.ing.lu/mymoney.