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Could YOU Spot Spoofed WiFi?

As remote working continues to thrive, employees are logging in from anywhere and everywhere. But can you be sure they’re connecting using secure networks? Or could they fall victim to spoofed WiFi?

Working remotely doesn’t just mean working from home. In fact, in a UK survey, 26% of workers said restaurants were an acceptable place to carry out their tasks. 23% said they’d happily work from the pub. 22% from a coffee shop. And 19% believed cafes were good environments for being productive. Free WiFi in hospitality settings is now the norm, making it super easy for workers to connect. 

The problem is that employees may not be connecting to the network they think they are. 

They could be connecting to spoofed WiFi. 

What is ‘spoofed WiFi’?

Spoofed WiFi is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a malicious network designed to imitate a legitimate WiFi network. It’s often called an ‘Evil Twin’ attack, because the captive portal – the ‘sign in’ page – is intended to look just like the real thing. And that’s what makes it such a big risk to remote workers. 

Think about when you connect to public WiFi. You see the captive portal, it’s got all the familiar branding of the company, and you inherently trust it, right? Unfortunately, it could be an evil twin.

What happens during an evil twin attack is that the criminal is able to sit in between the user and the spoofed network, intercepting any data that is being sent over the network. This includes passwords, emails, data entered into apps, messages, web traffic, and much more. They can essentially see it all. 

So… would you know if you were connecting to a spoofed network, or the real thing?

Spotting spoofed WiFi

Here are a few telltale signs that a WiFi network may not be quite what it seems…

1. Fake password protection

If you need to enter a password to access the network, try purposefully entering incorrect credentials. Criminals want as many people to connect as possible. So they’ll often use fake password protection that will let anyone in, regardless of whether they have used a correct password or not. 

2. Duplicates

A big red flag is when there are two separate WiFi networks with a similar name. Sometimes, this is legitimate – for example, if there’s guest WiFi and staff WiFi. But if there are two public networks with similar names, such as ‘Starbucks’ and ‘Starbuckss’, one of them may not be official. 

3. Unusual requests

Captive gateways often ask for a name or email address. And for hotel WiFi, it may also ask for a room number. That’s normal. But think twice before connecting to a network which asks for personally identifiable information and credit card numbers, or wants you to download anything. 

4. Typos

We all make mistakes, and typos can happen. But a legitimate public WiFi network will usually be checked for any obvious mistakes to ensure users enjoy a great experience. If a captive portal is rife with spelling or grammar mistakes, it’s a good idea to verify with staff before clicking ‘connect’. 

How to stay safe

Here are our top 3 tips for staying safe when connecting to public WiFi networks:

  1. Never connect to a password-free network unless you are 100% sure it’s legitimate
  2. Change the settings on your device to turn off auto-connect
  3. Where possible, try to avoid using public WiFi for tasks involving sensitive data 

At Perigon One, we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry. That’s why we’re committed to helping businesses stay safe in the digital world. Looking for advice, guidance, and support for embracing digital in the safest, most secure way? Our team can help. Get in touch with us to find out how.