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When NOT to use WiFi

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LONDON: A British military scientist has warned that using wireless technology when connecting to the Internet could compromise the security of the user’s bank passwords and the like.

Brian Collins of the Royal Military College of Science at Cranfield University in England referred to “evil twins” — bogus base stations that latch on to someone using WiFi wireless technology.

Victims could be induced to believe their laptops or mobile phones were connected to bona fide wireless Internet connections, the professor said.

“Users need to be wary of not using their WiFi enabled laptops or other portable devices in order to conduct financial transactions or anything that is of a sensitive personal nature, for fear of having disclosed this information to an unauthorised third party,” Cranfield said.

Bank details or other personal information could be passed on for interception by cybercriminals, the former chief scientist at GCHQ, the British government’s main eavesdropping facility, said.

Wireless devices link to the Internet via “hotspots” — nearby connection points that they lock on to — but the hotspots can be accessed just as easily by cybercriminals, who can take their place by substituting an evil twin.

Phil Nobles, a cybercrime expert at Cranfield, said evil twin hotspots presented a real danger to web users.

“Cybercriminals don’t have to be that clever to carry out such an attack. Because wireless networks are based on radio signals they can be easily detected by unauthorised users tuning into the same frequency,” he said.

The dangers were highlighted during a special session on wireless crime in the Dana Centre, in the London Science Museum. – dpa

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