WiFi Scams

Everyone’s going wireless these days.

In my home it’s great as it allows me to have my desktop pc in a utility room at the back of the house.

Wireless internet connections are more commonly used with laptops though.


The advantage of WiFi for a laptop user is that they can roam around their house, or garden, and pick up an internet connection just about anywhere, subject to certain limitations.

Additionally, many forward-thinking organisations realised that they could set up WiFi networks in popular areas in order to service the mobile user.

You’ve probably seen wireless hotspots advertised near cafes and in airports, for example.

The WiFi Hotspot Scam

In the WiFi hot spot scam the scammer will set up a fake hot spot in a busy and public area.

In an airport, for instance, they will advertise a free WiFi connection service.

They have pre-configured their computer to allow their victims to use their internet connection so all would seem to be as it should.

However, what the victim doesn’t realise, is that they have connected to a peer-to-peer network instead of a hotspot.

This scam was popular a couple of years ago until people began to catch on.

However, with the large scale adoption of Vista it is gaining popularity once more as it is currently hard to detect on this new operating system.

Whilst the victim is connected to the peer-to-peer network the scammer, who is usually sat nearby with a laptop, is monitoring everything they do, looking for any information of value.

Worse, if file sharing is enabled on the target computer then the scammer can have full access to the victims machine, allowing usage and manipulation of all the files stored upon it.

Easy entry

Even within the safety and privacy of your own home you are at risk of having your WiFi connection hijacked.

The best defence is to always use WPA security and MAC address filtering if these options are available to you.

Also, if running Vista, ensure that file sharing is disabled before connecting to any network that you don’t fully trust.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. Its quite scary how easy they make this out to be. Is it really that simple to hack into anothers system?

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