Summer Surfing on Free Wi-Fi: Work or Play, but stay secured

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  • Disable sharing of files, folders or services
  • Beware of the so-called man in the middle attack
  • Change configuration of personal firewall to automatically block inbound traffic

Summer is here and there is nothing more pleasant than to see people relaxing, sitting in parks or by the city-fountains with their laptops on, working, chatting, uploading pictures, sharing stories or just surfing the web using free wi-fi zones that became more available and popular in most of cities around the globe. Strictly from the security vendor’s perspective, such as ESET, there is no (guaranteed) safe surfing out in the street: Wi-Fi is insecure. WEP encryption used on Wi-Fi networks is weak and easy to crack.

According to ABI Research Wi-Fi hotspots were continuing their torrid growth in 2008. The greatest growth and the largest number of hotspots continue to be found in Europe. While the UK has long led in European Wi-Fi hotspots, there is also marked growth in France, Germany, and Russia.* Free Wi-Fi Hotspots are emerging in many countries and there’s probably at least one hotspot in every major city within Europe or Middle East.

According to Pierre-Marc Bureau, senior malware researcher at ESET, one of the worst types of threat is posed by the so-called man in the middle attack. „If someone else is on the network, he can modify network traffic and let you think you are dealing with your bank while, in reality, you are sending him all your credentials."

Director of Malware Inteligence at ESET, David Harley adds: „Work or play, use HTTPS to access webmail. Consider buying hosted VPN access. Avoid connecting to sites that transfer sensitive info, your bank for instance.”

There are many actions that can be taken to protect oneself against different types of malware. ESET‘s personal firewall built into its ESET Smart Security 4 lets customers change the configuration when connecting to an untrusted Wi-Fi network and automatically block all inbound traffic.


Security threats present when using Free Wi-Fi:

  • Evil twin login interception (networks set up by hackers to resemble legitimate Wi-Fi hot spots)
  • 0-day OS/app attack attemptst (an attack through previously unknown exploit)
  • Sniffing (computer software or hardware that can intercept and log traffic passing over a network)
  • Data leakage (man-in-the-middle attack)

 How to protect your computer:

  • Ensure VPN pass through ports are enabled, but don’t allow a high port free-for-all
  • Use HTTPS to access webmail
  • Avoid protocols that don’t have encryption wherever possible
  • Disable sharing of files, folders, services
  • Avoid connecting to sites that transfer sensitive info, your banking information, for instance
  • Ensure you’re using sound firewalling, antimalware, HIPS

Choose Strict protection in ESET Smart Security 4 when connecting to Wi-Fi

Personal Firewall’ s Automatic mode in ESET Smart Security 4 is the best security option when connecting to Wi-Fi 

About ESET

Founded in 1992, ESET is a global provider of security solutions for enterprises and consumers. ESET is a market leader in proactive detection of malware. Thanks to its ThreatSense.Net® technology, it is able to collect data on a volunteer basis from users all around the world, allowing it to react flexibly to emerging threats. It‘s ESET NOD32 Antivirus has been ranked by the independent AV-Comparatives testing lab as the best antivirus product worldwide (2006, 2007). ESET has offices in Bratislava, SK; San Diego, USA; Prague, CZ; Buenos Aires, AR; and has an extensive partner network in 160 countries. In 2008, ESET has opened a new research center in Krakow, Poland. ESET was named to Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the region of Europe, Middle East and Africa.