Security firm Kaspersky Lab says that every fifth public Wi-Fi network in host cities is a risk to use. From the research, 7,176 of the approximately 32,000 public Wi-Fi networks in cities hosting the 2018 World Football Championship do not encrypt traffic thus could have safety problems, so football fans will have to take care of their personal data, especially when using open Wi-Fi connections.
“The lack of traffic encryption, coupled with large-scale events – like the FIFA World Cup – make wireless Wi-Fi networks a target for criminals who want easy access to user data. Despite about two-thirds of all access points in FIFA World Cup host cities using encryption based on the most secure Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2) protocol family, even these access points can’t be considered secure if the password is visible to everyone,” said Denis Legezo, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab
Kaspersky Lab conclusions are based on the analysis of Wi-Fi public connections in the 11 cities of the World Football Championship 2018: Saransk, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Volgograd, Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Sochi, Rostov, Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg. The results show that not all wireless access points have encryption and authentication algorithms, which are essential for Wi-Fi network security. This means that hackers only need to be nearby to intercept network traffic and get confidential information from uninformed or careless users.
The top 3 destinations with Wi-Fi are not safe are Sankt Petersburg (37 percent), Kaliningrad (35 percent) and Rostov (32 percent). Instead, the safest places are in relatively small cities – for example, Saransk (only 10 percent are open Wi-Fi connections) and Samara (with 17 percent).
“Our research shows, once again, that cybersecurity involves addressing not just certain aspects, but the entire infrastructure. FIFA World Cup 2018 has confirmed that the event itself is secure – but users should be aware that clearly its host cities’ public Wi-Fi hotspots are often not,” added Denis.
Here are few tips from Kaspersky Lab for those planning to visit FIFA World Cup 2018 host cities and use open Wi-Fi networks while there:
- Whenever possible, connect via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). With a VPN, encrypted traffic is transmitted over a protected tunnel, meaning criminals won’t be able to read your data, even if they gain access to it. For example, the Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN solution can switch on automatically when a connection is not safe.
- Do not trust networks that are not password-protected or have easy-to-guess or easy-to-find passwords.
- Even if a network requests a strong password, you should remain vigilant. Fraudsters can find out the network password at a coffee shop, for example, and then create a fake connection with the same password. This allows them to easily steal personal user data. You should only trust network names and passwords given to you by employees of the establishment.
- To maximise your protection, turn off your Wi-Fi connection whenever you are not using it. This will also save your battery life. We also recommend disabling automatic connections to existing Wi-Fi networks.
- If you are not 100% sure the wireless network you are using is secure, but you still need to connect to the Internet, try to limit yourself to basic user actions such as searching for information. You should refrain from entering your login details for social networks or mail services, and definitely do not perform any online banking operations or enter your bank card details anywhere. This will avoid situations where your sensitive data or passwords are intercepted and then used for malicious purposes later on.
- To avoid being a target for cybercriminals, you should enable the “always use a secure connection” (HTTPS) option in your device settings. Enabling this option is recommended when visiting any website, you think may lack the necessary protection.