Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Wi-Fi Threats Make VPN's Essential To Safe Surfing, Report Says

According to recent polls, over 83% of Americans own a cell phone or mobile device and, by 2015, are all expected to be connected to the Internet in one form or another. But with wireless companies scaling back smartphone plans—this month, both Sprint and AT&T announced data plans as low as $15 with drastically reduced wireless capabilities—the hunt for free Wi-Fi will gain millions of new hunters this year.

Sadly though, Wi-Fi security is still evolving, making identity protection and private browsing difficult.

A new report from Information Week magazine has shown a spotlight on some new dangers in the world of Wi-Fi that should draw concern from the mobile-connected community.
Snooping Software: Plugins and software platforms will continue to emerge, helping snoopers, spies and hackers glimpse private information. And as mobile networks have become more widespread, these platforms are even more lucrative for the opportunistic interloper. " It's trivially easy to snoop on unencrypted protocols and perform traffic analysis with Wireshark or a similar network protocol analyzer, or hijack browser sessions with a plug-in such as Firesheep," Information Week commentator Kurt Marko reported.

Man-In-The-Middle Attacks: VPN's can route your browser information through heavily encrypted channels to prevent attacks, thwarting Man-In-The-Middle hackers from rerouting all your browser information, lifting passwords and other sensitive information from public Wi-Fi networks. This is usually facilitated through wireless login Trojan pages, giving you no indication that you have been infiltrated.

While many tech-savvy individuals have taken to avoiding public networks to protect their information, this tactic may not work forever as mobile access becomes more central to our everyday communication. While many technology companies are now rolling out VPN plugins, 3rd party VPN services still hold the recommendation of tech professionals as they are constantly updated to protect against new and increasingly savvy snoopers.