Why going for a coffee could pose the biggest threat to your online security

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After sitting down in a coffee shop, restaurant or bar, how soon do you ask for the wi-fi password?

Well according to new research, you may want want to think twice before connecting to the wi-fi network in your local coffee shop.

A report from security firm iPass warns users about the dangers of connecting to unsecured or public wi-fi networks.

The firm said wi-fi networks in coffee shops and cafes are “high risk” and can be deliberately targeted by cyber criminals due to their popularity and convenience.

People who connect to public wi-fi networks are at risk from having cyber criminals access their private data without their knowledge.

“Wherever there is an unsecured public Wi-Fi network, there is the threat of attack,” Raghu Konka, vice president of engineering at iPass.

“However, coffee shops are seen as the most dangerous public Wi-Fi venue of all.”

“Cafés and coffee shops are everywhere and offer both convenience and comfort for mobile workers, who flock to these venues for the free high speed internet as much as for the the coffee.

“However, cafés invariably have lax security standards, meaning that anyone using these networks will be potentially vulnerable,” Konka added.

iPass carried out the study, which also found that CEOs are the greatest risk to enterprise security, by compiling responses from 500 CIO and IT decision makers from companies in the US, UK, France and Germany.

The study found that the post popular place to connect to a public wifi network is a coffee shop, followed by airports and hotels.

“Our research shows that man-in-the-middle attacks are considered to be the greatest mobile security concern of using public Wi-Fi hotpots (69 percent),” Konka revealed.

“This is when a hacker secretly attacks the data flowing to and from the internet to the mobile device.”

During a man-in-the-middle attack, hackers can intercept communications between two parties without either of the victims knowing.

“However, man-in-the-middle attacks are not the only mobile security threat mobile workers face.

“More than half of respondents also said they were worried about unpatched operating systems, hotspot spoofing and a lack of encryption.”

iPass recommends to always use a VPN and to never carry out financial transactions when connected to a public wifi network.

Users should also be cautious about opening suspicious emails, downloading files and clicking on unfamiliar links.

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