RUSSIAN cyber-security firm Kaspersky Lab ZAO has cautioned Filipino netizens on a proposal to provide open Wireless-Fidelity (Wi-fi) networks in public places nationwide.
The free public Wi-fi bill approved by the Senate on March 13 will not only make Internet services available to all Filipinos but will make sure that broadband services are faster and more efficient, Sen. Ralph Recto was quoted in a statement as saying.
Recto, one of the proponents of Senate Bill (SB) 1277, said the proposal seeks to provide free Internet access in all national and local government offices and public schools, hospitals and parks, among others.
However, Kaspersky Lab said Wi-fi networks requiring no password are not safe.
“Malicious individuals and groups can set up an open and free Wi-fi network to lure and trap Internet users who will connect through the network,” Kaspersky Lab said. “Cyber criminals often create such networks to sniff users’ personal data.”
The Russian firm added that Wi-Fi networks requiring password are also not safe.
“Malicious individuals or groups can piece together a counterfeit Wi-fi hot spot. Using a café or a shopping mall’s Wi-fi network name, they can entice users to connect,” Kaspersky Lab said. “A criminal can easily find out the password, which is used in a café or a shopping mall, and create a fake Wi-fi hot spot with the same name.”
When the device connects to an unknown network it “transmits its unique MAC [media access control] address,” Kaspersky Lab said. “Each Wi-fi access point that receives a request from a phone can log these data.”
The Russian firm said it is on the basis of this information that marketing specialists often make maps of their clients’ routes to find out, which goods attracted them.”
“For example, if you’ve stopped to tie your shoes near a perfume shop, be ready: soon you’ll see a few ads that promote expensive toilet water.”
Kaspersky Lab recommends prudence as still the tool to protect users. In addition, the use of HTTPs, which consists of communication over Hypertext Transfer Protocol within an encrypted connection, is also advised.
“An open, free Internet network is like a double-edged sword: it’s free but also definitely risky,” Kaspersky Lab Southeast Asia General Manager Sylvia Ng was quoted in a statement as saying. “It’s perfectly fine to feel excited about the anticipated public Wi-fis in the entire Philippines. But we urge Filipinos to be very cautious, too.”