Telecoms need to increase security and users’ awareness when offering public WiFi in Smart Cities in the region, according to ESET.
“Using public Wi-Fi can be risky. Research by security firms has found that free hotspots are increasingly being used to steal private information from consumers. While for ordinary PC and smartphone users, Wi-Fi is not ideal, it is now something that is nearly inescapable. Unfortunately, cyber criminal are well aware of this and have developed techniques to exploit to steal information, identity or passwords and money from the users who use public or insecure Wi-Fi connections,” states Mohamed Djenane, security specialist at ESET Middle East.
Smart City initiatives are steadily taking root across the Middle East and along with the host of mGovernment applications that are now available. Telecom providers collaborate with regional governments to offer free Wi-Fi across public areas, complimenting the public wireless infrastructure that is already being offered by numerous establishments such as restaurants, cafes and corporations. Combined with the explosion in handheld smart devices, it is no wonder that the popularity of public Wi-Fi among citizens- and worryingly cyber criminals too- is on the rise.
According to ESET, the safer alternative is to connect via a 3G or 4G data package. However, these come at a premium which consumers are often unwilling to afford. “The good news is that users can still remain safe with public Wi-Fi when then research information, check news sites, or even look at maps of the local areas,” the company said.
ESET recommends that they take the following security measures: Double-check the network before usage, check Facebook and email in a computer as it is safer, avoid sharing their credit card details when using public WiFi and forget the hotspot.