Most of us are aware that if you are connected to free Wi-Fi hotspot, the hackers around you can hack into your system and steal personal information. Keeping the risks involved in free Wi-Fi hotspots, we should avoid falling into the trap. But most of us throw the warning in the air and prefer to connect to free Wi-Fi hotspots to prevent from using our carriers data. Connecting to free unprotected hotspots might not be a guarantee for you to get hacked or for people to do malicious acts while you’re connected but it’s definitely a possibility especially if you’re in a congested area. Anyone can make a hotspot and name it “Starbucks” or “McDonalds” and you won’t know if it’s the legitimate hotspot.
Avast held a “free wi-fi test” at MWC 2016, Avast managed to hack into phones and other devices of more than 2000 visitors who used the Free Wi-Fi that was set up by the company. The main aim of the demonstration was to warn people about the risks involved with the free Wi-Fi hotspots.
For the experiment, the researchers set up three free Wi-Fi hotspots near the Mobile World Congress registration booth at the Barcelona Airport. They made sure that the SSIDs of the hotspots are common, and people recognize them easily. They named them “Starbucks”, “Airport_Free_Wifi_AENA“and “MWC Free WiFi”. Most of the users fell in the trap and in less than 4 hours. They managed to collect data from more than 2000 users in this time period.
To make sure that the privacy of the users is not compromised, they only scanned the information for stats and did not save the data on their servers. They revealed the following information during the MWC:
- 1% had an Apple device, 43.4 percent had an Android device, 6.5 percent had a Windows Phone device
- 7% searched information on Google or checked their emails on Gmail
- 9% visited Yahoo
- 2% visited Spotify
- From 63.5% Avast could see the identity of the device and user
- 3% have the Facebook app installed, 2.4 p