Unencrypted Wi-Fi (Wireless-Fidelity) hotspots are now provided by public houses, cafes, hotels and many other establishments. Utilising these networks potentially leaves users open to attack with the threat of becoming victim to identity theft and fraud. Most users are unaware of the risks of these networks and are rarely provided with the information by the hotspot providers. Since the users are unaware of the vulnerabilities presented from these networks they cannot incorporate the correct security measures to decrease the risk of becoming victim to attack.
Wi-Fi hotspots are devices which provide wireless internet access from public locations for customers of an establishment and are usually unsecure.
Unsecure public wireless hotspots are becoming wide spread, available across many sectors from hospitality (restaurants, hotels, cafes) to transport (airports, trains) and are provided as either free access or prepaid networks.
Lawson describes the motivation of the Wi-Fi hotspot as a ‘convenience, not security’ for the users, therefore only ‘availability’ is taken into consideration within the CIA (Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability) model (LAWSON, 2013). As shown within the below Figure, which has been taken from the ‘BT WiFi, Terms and Conditions’, the users are made aware that the provider does not provide the CIA of the data transmitted across the wireless network which reinforces the statement made by Lawson.
Haines reiterates Lawson’s comment by stating that Wi-Fi hotspots ‘are designed around a business model rather than a technical model’ (Haines, 2010). This allows the conclusion that these networks are only provided in order to prolong the customers time within the establishment resulting in more revenue being created. The below Figure supports these statements by stating Starbucks offer their Wi-Fi service to customers who are consuming their product.
Whilst businesses such as restaurants and cafes usually provide free access, hotels charge for the service. The motivation changes from keeping the customer within the establishment to a new revenue stream from the staying customer.
LAWSON, K. 2013. There Is No Vacation from Cybercrime at WiFi Hotspots. USA Today Magazine, 142(2818), 60-62.
HAINES, B. 2010. CHAPTER 2 – Wireless – Client Attacks. In: B. HAINES, ed, Seven Deadliest Wireless Technologies Attacks. Boston: Syngress, pp. 25-41.