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Cybercriminals are targeting travelers by creating phony Wi-Fi hot spots in airports, in hotels, and even aboard airliners.
Vacationers on their way to fun in the sun, or already there, think they're using designated Wi-Fi access points. But instead, they're signing on to fraudulent networks and hand-delivering everything on their laptops to the crooks.
And everywhere they looked, they found fake Wi-Fi hot spots set up by hackers phishing for suckers — and there were plenty of suckers to be had.
"We found a lot of people using insecure Wi-Fi," says AirTight investigator Rick Farina, "and people engaged in all sort of dangerous activity — checking their e-mail, doing their banking, buying stock. These are not the kinds of thing you want to be doing on public Wi-Fi."
To this end, the folks at Symantec have created a list of five simple tips for thwarting most attacks.
— Pay attention to your surroundings. Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you're not in public. Don't look at important documents when sitting in a waiting area for a plane or a train — wait until you're alone and in private for that.
— Beware of "Evil Twins." Some Wi-Fi networks look legitimate but are actually dummy networks created by criminals. Even if they contain the name of your airport, airline or hotel, they will directly link your computer to the hacker's. If you always use the official access keys provided by the establishment, then you should be safe.
— Always assume Wi-Fi connections are being eavesdropped on. Never enter sensitive data — Social Security numbers, bank account information, etc. — when browsing the Web via a Wi-Fi network.
— Set all Bluetooth devices to "hidden," not to "discoverable." Better yet, if you don't use Bluetooth, just shut off the function altogether.
— Keep your security software current and active. Mobile PCs are just as vulnerable to viruses, worms and Trojan horses as are desktops, so make sure you have the latest protection installed.