RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There is a warning for anyone who uses free Wi-Fi. With a little less than a hundred dollars and a quick Google search, cyber criminals can get hold of a device capable of stealing your information.
Those free hot spots are tempting but dangerous. Now there is even more reason not to use them. Computer expert, Kevin Boynton, with The Computer Doctor of Richmond says, it's called the Wi-Fi Pineapple. It's a device that gives criminals easy access to our online activity. "Depending on the way this hacker has it set up, they can have what's called a man in the middle attack. It will pass you through to the real internet but mean while, all the traffic that you are passing through this pineapple, they are sniffing it. They are capturing your information," Boynton explains.
He admits, it's intimidating. He says anyone can get one by just doing a simple search online. The technology allows criminals to pretend it's your favorite Wi-Fi spot. If you're fooled, you could be handing over your personal information. "The uses for this are very scary. Think about it, cyber stalking. A crazy ex-lover could set one of these up and go to a spot where they know you are going to be and they could sniff your email information and passwords," Boynton says.
While this all sounds really frightening, there are ways you can protect yourself. Your safest bet is not to use free Wi-Fi but if you have to, be careful about which sites you visit. "Never ever, ever, ever do any banking or any financial information on a Hotspot and you need to be cautious about if you should check your email, or if you should check your Facebook," Boynton warns.
Other tips, turn off Wi-Fi if you're not using it. If you connect with a free Hotspot, tell your device to forget the network when you're done. That way it will not connect automatically and ask you for permission to gain access.
While the threat focuses on free Wi-Fi spots, experts say don't let your guard down at home. "What this also highlights is the importance for us as consumers to make sure our home Hotspots and our work Hotspots are properly secured and password protected," Boynton says.
Always surf with caution and remember, crooks don't need the Pineapple to hack into your device, there are other tricky devices on the market.