LOS ANGELES, Ca. – At the mall, on the beach and at the airport there are free WiFi networks and charging ports everywhere, but these public places are popular targets for hackers.
RSA’s Kayvan Alikhani showed NBC how hackers do it. He set up an unauthorized, insecure WiFi network at the airport and called it “airport WiFi”.
Within minutes, fifteen travelers around us logged on, not realizing it was an unofficial, insecure connection.
“We have a malicious hotspot here,” Alikhani said.
Which means signing into your bank account or shopping online could lead a hacker right to your personal information.
“You’re punching in what you think is gonna be a safe username and password, the screen looks valid,” Alikhani said.
And just like that your data is gone. Those helpful charging stations are also prime targets. It’s called “juice jacking”.
When you plug your phone into a USB port, a prompt comes up asking if you trust the connection. So many just say yes, but you should beware if you do.
“Unbeknown to you, this USB port is actually connected to a system where a cyber criminal is looking at your device,” Alikhani said.
“I realized somebody was trying to enter my computer,” Jerome Phillips, someone who’s been hacked said.
Phillips was hacked at the Saint Louis airport. His first worry was his financial data.
“It’s scary for the first couple days because the first time it happens you don’t know what the bank’s response is going to be, and your mind races,” Phillips said.
So how can you protect yourself? Experts say: don’t charge in a USB port, use a plug; be wary of pop-up prompts; be skeptical of generic network names and use a virtual private network.
“Less is more,” Alikhani said. “Slowdown be more cautious.”
And dare to be disconnected by putting your phone down to keep your defenses up.