1,200 RNC attendees caught in Wi-Fi hack experiment

“With Washington heatedly discussing cybersecurity issues virtually every week, we thought it would be interesting to test how many people actually practice secure habits,” said Gagan Singh, president of mobile at Avast. And what better occasion to run this test could there be than at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland?

Fake free Wi-Fi spots set up in crowded locations

Security company Avast set up fake free Wi-Fi networks in different locations around the RNC, such as the arena where the event was held and at the airport. Each was assigned a network SSID that looked like common or legitimate networks set up for the convention, such as “Google Starbucks”, “I vote Trump! Free Internet”, and “I vote Hillary! free Internet”.

Personal security exchanged for free Internet access

Results were discouraging: Over the day, more than 1,200 attendees connected to these fake Wi-Fi spots and more then 1.6Gbs were transferred, showing how negligent people are when it comes to connecting to public Wi-Fi. The desire for free Internet access is probably stronger than concerns about personal information security – Avast was able to identify 68.3% of users’ identities, although they discarded this data.

Moreover, Avast was able to gather data like the type of mobile device connected, the web browser and email service provider used (44.5% of tracked users checked their emails or chatted), who shopped on Amazon, how many accessed online banking apps, and even dating apps.

Safely connect to free Wi-Fi networks

If you can’t help but connect to free Wi-Fi spots, I suggest that you use a VPN service. Regardless of whether you do so, I suggest always using secure networks if you need to access your personal email, home banking, or online shopping accounts.

Strengthen your information security awareness

The level of information security people have at home usually reflects the level of security they keep at work. If they are negligent in their own home (like keeping the default password for their wireless router or not updating antivirus software), how do you expect them to be more vigilant at their workplace? The freshly updated Information Security E-learning course can help you and your staff address information security both at home and at work, making sure you are aware of all kind of risks and consequences you face if you are not secure. Read more about the course >>

Always be alert and vigilant when it comes to information security!